Ríoghnach Connolly and Stuart McCallum are the creative heart of The Breath. Ríoghnach – singer, lyricist and flautist – is Armagh born and Manchester based. Known for her work with Afro Celt Sound System and Honeyfeet, she has a remarkable voice, a deep elegiac sensibility and a mischievous character. Stuart, by contrast, is a Mancunian urbanite, a guitarist who’s worked with Cinematic Orchestra and is given to dry understatement and calm confidence. Together, they have a remarkable connection.
Next month they set off on a UK tour performing tracks from their brand new album, ‘Let the Cards Fall’ – a bewitching collection of songs that journeys from lush, beguiling storytelling to uplifting, punch-the-air anthems refining their unique Manchester take on alt-folk. Yet it’s the emotional depth of the songs and the incredible spark that the duo share on stage that make the Breath’s live performance so compelling.
For Stuart and Ríoghnach, words and music come quickly (Ríognach has an exceptional gift for the spontaneous lyric). They choose to work quickly – tracks on their new album were written and recorded on the hoof, over a few days – to hone closer to the creative spark which is at the heart of their music. For them, it’s all about the song. Connolly writes the only way she knows how; a stream of poetic consciousness giving rise to honest, personal, heartfelt songs as likely to touch on childhood summers and first love as cultural dislocation, post-colonial injustices and grief.
But it’s Ríoghnach’s utterly engaging, stop-you-in-your-tracks voice – whether delicate and hushed or powerful and gutsy – coupled with Stuart’s understated brilliance and their impassioned, performances that make this show a must-see.
1 Nov BRISTOL, Trinity
8 Nov BRIGHTON, Komedia
9 Nov NOTTINGHAM, Metronome
13 Nov MANCHESTER, Deaf Institute
Performing music from their new album
Let the Cards Fall soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/realworldrecords/sets/the-breath-album-2/s-trrhE