Only Stories (Let The Cards Fall Revisited)

The Breath

Released 04 April 2019

  1. Only Stories (Acoustic)
  2. Let It Calm You Down (Acoustic)
  3. All That You Have Been (Acoustic)
  4. No You Keep It (Acoustic)
  5. Hide Out (Acoustic)
  6. Boat Song (Acoustic)
  7. Will You Wait (Acoustic)
  8. Let The Cards Fall (Acoustic)

Liner notes

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.


  • An acoustic recording that unfolds like a paper flower... The acoustic setting pushed Connolly to the fore, the dense atmospherics of the previous albums melting away like mist. ★★★★★ Financial Times
  • An acoustic album largely of old songs that still feels truly essential The Guardian
'Only Stories' recorded live and acoustic in The Wood Room at Real World Studios


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.

Further Listening

  • Let The Cards Fall

    The Breath

    Released 13 September 2018

    A bewitching collection of songs that journeys from lush, beguiling storytelling to uplifting, punch-the-air anthems. Allowed to mature and breathe without losing the widescreen, multi-textured kaleidoscope of sound that marked their debut, Let the Cards Fall refines The Breath's unique Manchester take on alt-folk.

Further reading

Les Amazones d’Afrique assert women’s freedom of expression with new single ‘Kuma Fo’

The track features on their forthcoming Jacknife Lee-produced album Musow Danse.

John Metcalfe announces new album and reveals first track ‘Xylem’

Tree is set for release on vinyl, CD and digitally via Real World Records on 22 September 2023.

Sheila Chandra: The pursuit of radical vocal expression

Sheila's trilogy of albums for Real World is being re-issued on CD, and on vinyl for the first time.

Guitarist Salif Koné demonstrates three musical styles from Mali

Rokia Koné and Les Amazones d'Afrique's guitarist demonstrates Mandigue, Bamana & Tuareg music.