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Only Stories (Let The Cards Fall Revisited)

by The Breath

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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.”

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.


released April 5, 2019

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.


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The Breath Manchester, UK


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Track Name: Only Stories (Acoustic)
We’re in the water
Faded shadows
Winter at my cheek

Fighting fliers
Flickered fires
Summer at our feet

Pieces of me, lost at sea, out on the tide
Hear the yearly wields of the wild

The only stories my mother told me
They’re only stories mo dhadaí left me

Only stories, only stories own me

Frightened flickers, stolen whispers, bathed in the dark
Clasp your hand in my hand, never wanting to part

Pieces of me lost at sea, out on the tide
Hear the yearly wields of the wild

The only stories my mother told me
They're only stories, mo dhadaí left me

Only stories, only stories own me
Only stories, only stories own me
Track Name: Let It Calm You Down (Acoustic)
Hideaway on your own
Let the time go
Your mind know
All near the hurt will see
You praying to yourself
And me

Let it calm you down
Let it calm you down
Let it calm you, calm you, let it calm you down

Something sooth is written on the wind
You’re looking for your truth in other women
And i’ll hold my weapon out and raise a glass
For all you’ve done to me and all you’ve cost

Yet it calms me down
Yet it calms me down
All the suffering going on, the pit in my chest
One turn of your cheek and I am second-guessed
And it calms me down

For you, I know of fate
For you, before you I knew ways
To cut men where they stand and lose their ways
I found joy in the suffering that i could entail

And you rise upon the tide with history's page
Somethings written in the ways of all you take
Can't you see thewcaves are calling to the seas
For all it could give for you and me, for you and me

And you calm me down, you calm the storm reigning down
Yes you calm me down, you calm me down
You take the suffering of the world upon your shoulder blades
And you give it all out with every breath you take

Yes you calm me down, yes you calm me down
Oh you calm me down, you calm the world down
And you slow it down, you slow the world down
And take me down, take me down to china town
Track Name: All That You Have Been (Acoustic)
Lift your head
Raise the dead
Love abound the bi-motional peace
Won’t you sever empty dread
Come play with me instead
Count the truth a terminal release

Dancing sorrows were they fall
None sooth’s but win the soil
Go into battle drawn with all the sea
For the waves will turn you o’er
The wind will blow you more
The land will roll the last out in you and me

Our children bathed in blood
Who will howl for their home
The history books may victor written be
My bones will shake with gall, get carried with their hoards
Remember all that you have been

Our children bathed in blood
Will howl for their homes
Their history book may victor written be
Track Name: No You Keep It (Acoustic)
[Verse 1]
I wouldn't know another
As I heard them sleep at night
Wouldn't set you free to wander
When you could not always fight
She took you for a mother
Held you in her eye
If you could only need you
Weary of another’s arms

And you only nay, curse of now
Pulls at your chords, and curses down
You know that I know
And i know that you know

[Verse 2]
If she could not leave you
Holding on to me tight
If you could love another
Half as bright
So when if you lay your way down in night
Say a blessing for others
‘fore you centre your strong light
Remember those others

And untangle me... untangle me...
From all the good it did for me
And all the suffering that it seen
You can keep it... you deserve it
Lord knows you’ve earned it
All the good it did for me
All the suffering that it seen
You can keep it... you deserve it
Lord knows you’ve earned it
Track Name: Hide Out (Acoustic)
Worn out, brazen lost lovers holding on
Reached for his tin, hide all your secrets in
Born under covers
Heaven as lead
Poisoned your parents bed
Hanging on
The house spills it’s cowards out
My heart pulls his colours out
To sea...
Calling his name given yesterday
Shed the skin the same
To have our own truths
Had our own secrets too
Guiding us through
If i held you again
Like all women
Lay the same way
Course crossroads they’d win
Written for other men’s history
Page turns the same
In truth, given into, truth, the spell’s all your into...
Track Name: Boat Song (Acoustic)
stolen from home , lost in the night
taken by re to hasten their flight
And the rattle and creak of boards ‘neath their feet,
buried the scars underneath

but the sea is wide, they cannot forego it
and long, long is the tide that has taken thee

so sing them a boat song to carry them over
sing them a boat song, return them unbroken

pray keep them safe, let them be unafraid
for dark are the hearts that take them to their graves
lost souls in the tide, they turn to the shore
where wringing of hands plead for deliverance

and the sea is wide, they cannot forgo it
and long, long is the tide....
that has taken thee....taken thee

so sing me a boat song, to carry me over
...who will replace this sailor boy when he goes?
his love still watches the tide for his return oh,
for his return oh
Track Name: Will You Wait (Acoustic)
Ever wanna know this?
Ever wanna know this me?
I’m working in colours
Working in colours you can’t see
And i’m breathing it backward
Searching for the sun
Do you ever know which way is won?
Do you know me
Do you see
Are you waiting for the dawn to take me will you hold me
Will you see
Will you wait until the dawn to take me i’m working it harder
I’m working it harder
Long enough to call a knife
Cut it into pieces where i writhe
Linger in the other head, directionless where our people rest and know me best do you know me
Do you see
Will you wait until the dawn to take me will you hold me
Will you be
Will you wait until the dawn to bury me
Track Name: Let The Cards Fall (Acoustic)
Time lets its keepers to stay
Some mothers battle their way
Kept a run away hate
Suhail my old friend won’t you rest a day
Though you walk the ill-trodden path
Strong brother, strong brother won’t you wait
Pieces lost with the ills of the world
Long gone, easy late
Timeless as the day where earths are made
Though you walk the ill-trodden path
Though you shy the ill-gotten way
Though you forge the long road ahead
Let the cards fall where they may
Though you seek the ill-gotten truth
Though you shake the ill-gotten turn
Though you walk the long forgotten path
Loyalty Lochlainn

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