The Mae Trio – Take Care, Take Cover
MAE Music – 2017
An Appalachian bluegrass trio from Melbourne, The Mae Trio, sisters Maggie and Elsie Rigby and Anita Hillman, made a sizeable impression with their debut album, particularly in their impeccable Australian-accented harmonies. Their follow-up, Take Care, Take Cover, sees them joined by Viktor Krauss on double bass and Jano Rix on drums as well as a number of guest musicians including,a mongst others, Kai Welch, Darrell Scott, Maya de Vitry (The Stray Birds), Jeff Taylor (The Time Jumpers) and Molly Tuttle. It’s an album that should further consolidate and extend their reputation as both performers and songwriters.
Mixing blues and 40s flavours, the scratchy rhythms of Well Enough Alone announce their return with a flourish, apparently written by Maggie in response to some snide male comments when they were starting out. As you might imagine from the title, the mandolin bubbling led Haul Away has a shanty flavour, albeit somewhat softer and sweeter than the usual rowdiness. Molly Tuttle contributes guitar as she does on the following, more simply arranged (but gradually gathering), Call Me Stranger, written and sung by Maggie where, with its harmonies, suggests an Antipodean version of the McGarrigles.
One of Elsie’s, Parallel Park, its chorus line (sung, spoken, shouted) providing the album title, broadens the musical palette with trumpet and trombone surfacing midway through its linked arms lurch along.
There’s a potent sense of empathy and social concern too. Initially accompanied by a simple acoustic guitar before Maya de Vitry’s (The Stray Birds) fiddle cuts in, the melancholic Sweet Honey with its gorgeous harmonies is about the young people who “brittle as bone and subtle as time” slip through the cracks in community care. Likewise, with Jeff Taylor on accordion, Maggie’s Grandma’s is a poignant first person account of a woman feeling the effects of the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Another of Elsie’s compositions, Heart of a Storm with its pizzicato banjo and Darrell Scott on pedal steel, has a strong feel and a particularly catchy chorus. She also provides the album’s closing number, plucked violin and Aaron Silver’s trumpet the musical bare bones of the upbeat Only Ever Growing, swelling to a joyous choral finale.
Prior to this, Mr Moon is the most obvious bluegrass influenced number while Maggie contributes the album’s longest track, the near seven-minute Skye. The latter, a paean to the beauty of the island where “the sky gave its colour to the ocean ‘til it was purple, green and grey” and featuring a haunting cello solo by Hillman.
The remaining track is the sole cover, a breathtaking unaccompanied three-part harmony reading of Karine Polwart’s Waterlily that is truly sublime and underscores the ever growing potential these girls have to capture a truly international stage.
UK & Ireland Tour Dates
16 – Clifden Arts Festival, Kilkenny, Ireland
17 – The Black Gate, Galway, Ireland
19 – Whelan’s, Dublin, Ireland
21 – Levis, Skibbereen, Ireland
23 – Clonakilty Guitar Festival, Clonakilty, Ireland
27 – Green Note, London, United Kingdom
28 – The Bowerhouse, Maidstone, United Kingdom
03 – An Tobar Arts Centre, Isle Of Mull, United Kingdom
04 – Iona Library, Isle Of Iona, United Kingdom
07 – An Lanntair, Stornoway, United Kingdom
11 – Blazin’ in Beauly, Beauly, United Kingdom
Photo Credit: Wilk