The Breath — Only Stories (Let the Cards Fall Revisited) (April 5, 2019) The Breath — Only Stories (Let the Cards Fall Revisited) (April 5, 2019) Pamela MÃÃÃÃÃÃéndez ÃÃÃÃÃâ Time (22 Feb 2019)• Only Stories (Let the Cards Fall Revisited) is the result; a duo recording of immense power and emotion. Stuart’s beautifully insistent, infinitely subtle guitar is the perfect partner to Ríoghnach’s intoxicating, deeply passionate voice, at times, as described by the Guardian, as “tender as the grasp of a child’s hand” others, robust and intense. 
• Only Stories revisits a selection of the Breath’s skilfully crafted songs. Written by Ríoghnach they are raw, poetic and deeply personal, touching on subjects that mean most to her — cultural dislocation, injustices, family, love and grief. Throughout, the Celtic nuances of her voice and skilful, distinctive flute playing underscores her traditional Irish folk roots; balanced by warm, yet sparse soundscapes: their unique twist on alt~folk.
• In November 2018, singer Ríoghnach Connolly and guitarist Stuart McCallum embraced, beaming out at an audience that had leapt to their feet at the close of their intimate show in Brighton. They too had felt that something very special had just happened.
Stuart and Rioghnach are the creative heart of The Breath. For this show, they had performed their first duo set, minus their full band, allowing their extraordinary connection to shine through. Stripped bare, they found a new depth and beauty in their unadorned, heartfelt songs that had connected with their audience in such a remarkable way.
• A few weeks later, they travelled from Manchester to Real World Studios to re~record eight tracks; five taken from their highly acclaimed 2018 release, Let the Cards Fall. In a set~up that mimicked the gig setting, tracks were recorded in one take, live, immediate and in the moment.
• “Whilst feeling a bit daunting at first” says Stuart, “we knew after the Brighton gig that the space in the music allowed for more subtlety, presenting the songs in a new light and really capturing the lyrical narrative and performance nuances in an extremely intimate way. It felt important to go to Real World Studios and revisit these songs in this intimate, raw duo setting.”
Location: Manchester, UK
Album release: April 5, 2019
Record Label: x
Duration:     39:04
1. Only Stories   3:54
2. Let It Calm You Down   6:42
3. All That You Have Been   4:37
4. No You Keep It   4:31
5. Hide Out   5:08
6. Boat Song   4:47
7. Will You Wait   4:19
8. Let The Cards Fall   5:06
Stuart McCallum: guitar
Ríoghnach Connolly: vocals.
• Recorded, mixed and mastered by Oli Jacobs at Real World Studios.
• Filming by York Tillyer.
• Photography by Duncan Elliot.
• Original versions appear on the album Let The Cards Fall, except ‘Boat Song’, which features on Carry Your Kin.
• An acoustic recording that unfolds like a paper flower... The acoustic setting pushed Connolly to the fore, the dense atmospherics of the previous albums melting away like mist. — ★★★★★ FINANCIAL TIMES
• An acoustic album largely of old songs that still feels truly essential. — THE GUARDIAN
• Quietly, inexorably, The Breath have become one of the UK’s most exciting folk acts. Ríoghnach Connolly, originally from a Republican family in Armagh, is a singer and flute player, trained at the Armagh Pipers Club. Relocated to Manchester to study cultural theory and English literature, she met the guitarist Stuart McCallum, of the Cinematic Orchestra, an achingly trendy jazz and electronica outfit. The combination of sturdily traditional and keenly~but~understatedly contemporary need not have worked, but it does, wonderfully. Their 2016 debut, Carry Your Kin, reminded reviewers of The Blue Nile; last year’s Let the Cards Fall was endlessly and generously melodic.
• Only Stories grew out of a concert Connolly and McCallum gave last November in Brighton, playing for the first time as an acoustic duo. High on the audience’s approval, they booked into Real World studios to record this album in the same manner, in single takes. Six of the eight tracks are from Carry Your Kin and Let the Cards Fall, two new compositions. One of these is the opener, the title track, which recalls Connolly’s childhood summers spent in West Cork with her grandparents. “We’re in the water,” she sings, “summer at our feet.”
The other new composition is “No You Keep It”, opening with a keening flute riff then doubled by Connolly’s singing. Elliptically she sings to her sister Róise, left behind when Connolly moved to England to shoulder domestic burdens and grow up prematurely. “You can keep it’s you deserve it/ Lord knows you’ve earned it.” McCallum’s guitar hangs behind the melody, agreeing sympathetically.
• There is a hint, perhaps, of her father’s decade~long imprisonment in Long Kesh in “Will You Wait”, described as “walking in the prison yard”. This acoustic version highlights the quiet desolation of the chorus: “do you know me?” she keens, in a minor key, “will you wait until the dawn to take me?”
• The acoustic setting pushed Connolly to the fore, the dense atmospherics of the previous albums melting away like mist. But there is still much to enjoy in McCallum’s playing, not least the Spanish guitar flourishes at the end of “Boat Song”. And “Let the Cards Fall”, majestic on its own album, here achieves a kind of sublimity as it moves from verse to chorus to beautiful wordless refrain and back again, unfolding like a paper flower to reveal delight after delight.