The Breath – Let the Cards Fall
The Breath —guitarist Stuart McCallum and singer, lyricist and flautist, Ríoghnach Connolly— have unveiled the video for ‘Let the Cards Fall’, the title-track from their sophomore album, released this autumn on Real World Records.
The song is a delicate, wistful ode partly inspired by Queen Macha, of ancient Irish legend and the namesake of Armagh, Ríoghanch’s birthplace.
Everyone needs a role model and Ríoghnach opts for Macha; who “rode on to the battlefield nine months pregnant, slaughtered all around her and then gave birth right there.” She can be maternal as well as murderous. Ríoghnach also invokes Suhail, a bright star on the southern horizon that becomes a protective deity, for “my brothers, caught in the crossfire”— ordinary people, vulnerable to the processes of history.
The song exemplifies the great clashing virtues of the pair. Ríoghnach, possessed of Celtic primitivism and visionary intimacy, Stuart, a guitarist of considerable tonal range, is ethereal and searching, never content to slip into conventional form and thrives in the gap between freedom and restraint. The picking pattern, he informs, derives from Villa-Lobos’ Etude No. 1. There’s a feeling of a lull before the storm, a respite that offers space for nurturing and healing.
Ríoghnach Connolly —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 McCallum, 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 that is at the heart of their very Manchester take on Alt-Folk.