Last year, singer Ríoghnach Connolly and guitarist Stuart McCallum – the creative heart of The Breath – beamed 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. Unusually, they had performed a duo set. Stripped bare, they found a new depth and beauty in their unadorned, heartfelt songs.
Shortly after, Stuart and Rioghnach returned to the studio to record a collection of songs – one take, live and in the moment – just the two of them. Stuart’s beautifully insistent, infinitely subtle guitar is the perfect partner to Ríoghnach’s intoxicating, passionate voice.
Where five of the eight songs are re-recordings of tracks taken from their acclaimed 2018 release, ‘Let the Cards Fall’, ‘Only Stories’ is a brand new song.
Imbued with a serene fragility, “Only Stories is about oral history —that which can’t be written down” says Rioghnach, “and my memories of childhood summers in Glandore, West Cork, with my grandparents…proper Irish summers, that seem to go on forever and where time goes by the wayside”. Instrumentation is sparse and song writing is intimate with Ríoghnach’s flute (underscoring her traditional Irish folk roots), bringing an emotive quality to this beautiful song.
Ríoghnach Connolly (pron. Ray-oh-nah) is Armagh born and Manchester based. Known for her work with Afro Celt Sound System and Honeyfeet, she met Stuart McCallum on the city’s gig circuit several years ago. An unlikely pairing though it was – she a folk singer, loud and mischievous, he a jazz guitarist, member of Cinematic Orchestra and a softly spoken Manchester urbanite – their connection was immediate. They formed the Breath, a duo (with occasional supporting band members), presenting their contemporary take on alt-folk.
‘Only Stories’ is released as a single 22 February. ‘Only Stories (Let the Cards Revisited)’ is a digital-only release from Real World Records available from usual outlets 5 April 2019. ‘
23 March Belgium LEUVEN, Leuven Jazz
24 March Netherlands WAGENINGEN, Junushoff Theatre
25 March Netherlands AMSTERDAM, Paradiso
27 March Germany HAMBURG, Nochtwache
28 March Germany COLOGNE, Wohngemeinscharft
29 March Germany BERLIN, Club Auster
30 March Germany MUNICH, Zehner Club
31 March Germany LüDINGHAUSEN , Kolvenburg
10 May Ireland Derry, Nerve Centre
11 May Ireland BELFAST, The Duncairn
Summer Festivals to be announced