Fate is fickle, they say. On another day her pointing finger may have selected the indie pop of A Trick of the Light by The Villagers or the classical/folk guitar work of Impossible Air by Nathan Salsburg. But, today, she has guided Crotchety Man to a new single release by The Breath called Let the Cards Fall.
The creative heart of The Breath is Ríoghnach Connolly and Stuart McCallum. Rio is from Armagh in Northern Ireland, although she is now based in Manchester on the other side of the Irish Sea. Steeped in traditional Irish folk music, but with subtle jazz and blues influences, she is a singer, flautist and lyricist. Stuart is best known as the guitarist with Cinematic Orchestra, but his influences are wide-ranging and his work spans the gulf between electronic dance music and contemporary jazz.
The Breath released their first album, Carry Your Kin, in 2016. Let the Cards Fall is the title track from their second album, which is due for release on 14th September. It’s a delicate song with haunting vocals and a rich, warm production. It reminds me of Cloves.
The liner notes for the new album tell us that the lyrics of Let the Cards Fall allude to Queen Macha who, in ancient Irish legend, “rode on to the battlefield nine months pregnant, slaughtered all around her and then gave birth right there”. I’m not at all sure, though, how that fits in with the overall message, which seems to be one of urging our brother not to hurry along his ill-chosen path. “Strong brother, won’t you wait?”, sings Rio, “Let the cards fall where they may”.
Sometimes, perhaps, Fate plots a better course for us than we can imagine.
While looking for pictures to illustrate this track I stumbled upon a Danish outfit called Between Music and their Aquasonic project. The five performers spent 10 years inventing musical instruments that can be played under water. They also developed a distinctive technique for singing, which requires filling the throat with water – without flooding the lungs, of course.