Manchester-based alt-folk duo, The Breath – guitarist Stuart McCallum and singer/flautist Ríoghnach Connolly – are to perform at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, the annual ceremony that celebrates and rewards the very best in folk, roots and acoustic music. The announcement on yesterday’s BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show by presenter, Mark Radcliffe, follows news of The Breath’s two Folk Award nominations for Best Duo/Group and Folk Singer Of The Year for vocalist Ríoghnach Connolly. Their nominations come after a year in which the duo released two albums on Real World Records and wowed audiences across the country with their impassioned shows underlined by Ríoghnach’s stop-you-in-your-tracks voice, Stuart’s understated brilliance and their exquisitely crafted songs.
In celebration, The Breath release a new single, No You Keep It, a touching song about growing up before your time. Like all of Ríoghnach’s songs, it is deeply personal, honest and heartfelt.
First heard stripped bare on ‘Only Stories (Let the Cards Fall Revisited)’ in an acoustic duo setting, this version is from the original album sessions, heard as first intended, with a full band. The wistful, stirring song tells of domestic servitude and shouldering the burden of family and is made all the more poignant with masterful fiddle playing from special guest, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (The Gloaming) alongside Ríoghnach’s powerfully engaging voice, letting the traditional folk subtleties of the song shine through.
‘No You Keep It’ is a digital-only release on Real World Records available on 11 October 2019. It is one of three bonus tracks taken from Let the Cards Fall (Deluxe) released on 25 October.
The Breath performs at the BBC R2 Folk Awards at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 16 October, alongside other new and established artists including legendary Irish group Dervish, Welsh-Senegalese duo Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita and Edward II. The event will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe.
They perform at Gorilla, Manchester as part of the Manchester Folk Festival on 18 October 2019.
‘Let the Cards Fall’ (2018) and ‘Only Stories (Let the Cards Fall Revisited)’ (2019) are out now on Real World Records.
The Breath – short bio
Ríoghnach Connolly (pron. Ray-oh-nah) is an Armagh born and Manchester based singer/ flautist with a remarkable voice and a deep elegiac sensibility. She met guitarist 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 softly spoken guitar wiz given to dry understatement and calm confidence – their connection was immediate. They formed The Breath, a duo (with occasional supporting band members), presenting their contemporary take on alt-folk. For them, it’s all about the song. Connolly is a powerful storyteller writing heartfelt songs that touch on subjects that mean most to her – cultural dislocation, injustices, family, love and grief. They have released three albums on Real World Records, their breakthrough album, ‘Carry Your Kin’ (2016), ‘Let the Cards Fall’ (2018) and ‘Only Stories (Let the Cards Fall Revisited)’ (2019), a reimagining previous work, stripped bare, in a duo setting.