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Album Review: Little Sparrow – Just 3 EP

By on Tuesday, 7th August 2018 at 12:00 pm

Manchester singer/songwriter Katie Ware, perhaps better known by the name Little Sparrow, has recently released a new and distinctively charming EP to whet her audience’s appetite for a forthcoming full album. The EP release, simply titled ‘Just 3’, is brief but emotionally evocative, showcasing the beautiful singing voice that gave Little Sparrow her name, as well as the classically-influenced instrumental arrangements borne of her continued collaboration with producer Jonny Lexus, pianist/composer Robin Dewhurst and cellist Sarah Dale.

Ware is currently in the process of writing and recording a new album, which she hopes to release in 2019. But an opportunity presented to her back in 2016 set her path on a slight detour, which has turned out to be more of a happy accident than a deterrent to her progress. The ‘Just 3’ EP began to take shape when organisers at the 2016 Kendal Calling festival suggested that Ware, who was performing at the festival, might team up with Dewhurst and Dale to work on a classic rock cover. That collaboration grew from working on the cover to writing and arranging two additional Little Sparrow songs as well, and judging from the result, the three musicians have found a successful synchronicity.

In the EP’s opening track, Little Sparrow presents the fruit of the original collaboration, a drastic reinterpretation of Madness’ 1980 hit ‘Baggy Trousers’. In the hands of Ware and company, ‘Baggy Trousers’ is transformed from a zany punk anthem to a musical theatre-style vignette of melancholy introspection. Ware’s vocals find the sweet spot between sultry pop expressivity and beautiful classical technique, while Dewhurst’s delicate piano and Dale’s yearning cello provide an evocative backdrop to Little Sparrow’s remarkable reimagining of this song.

The middle track on the ‘Just 3’ EP is one we’ve heard before at TGTF, early single ‘Tender’, which was released on its own back in December of last year. As we mentioned in our review of the single, ‘Tender’ is a heartfelt and very personal song for Ware, and her video treatment, which includes fan-submitted photographs of loved ones alongside Ware’s own shared images, is equally emotional. The sentimental quality of the song makes it a nice pairing with the Little Sparrow version of ‘Baggy Trousers’, continuing both its nostalgic mood and its graceful musicality.

As if on cue, ‘Just 3’ closes with an unapologetic tearjerker, the aptly positioned ‘Dry Your Eyes’. In the EP’s press release, Ware relates that she wrote this song several years ago, when she was in the midst of suffering from a bout of depression. However, she emphasises that “the song is intended to be positive and to encourage the listener to ‘dry your eyes’ and to know that ‘you are not alone’.” Her uplifting message is inspiring both to the heart and to the minds of her hopeful listeners, who upon hearing these three tracks will no doubt be more eager than ever to hear Little Sparrow’s next collection of elegant and carefully-crafted songs.


Little Sparrow’s self-released ‘Just 3’ EP is available now. You can find TGTF’s past coverage of Little Sparrow, including a review of her debut LP ‘Wishing Tree’, through this link.


Single Review: Little Sparrow feat. Robin Dewhurst – Tender

By on Friday, 8th December 2017 at 6:00 pm

Header photo by Shay Rowan

Manchester songstress Katie Ware, better known professionally as Little Sparrow, has been busy since we at TGTF first reviewed her debut LP ‘Wishing Tree’ back in 2015. On the strength of that album, Little Sparrow has won accolades including Laurel Canyon Music‘s Favourite New Artist of the Year in December 2016 and an appearance on BBC Breakfast TV’s “Brek-fest” earlier that year. She also appeared with BBC 6 Music personality Chris Hawkins as co-presenter on ‘The Sound Check’, a 2016 television pilot programme showcasing new music. Ware has spent much of 2017 working on the writing and recording of a second full-length album, which is slated for release in 2018.

Eager to release new music before the end of this year, Little Sparrow has just shared news of a lovely new single called ‘Tender’. The track features musical contributions from a host of Ware’s regular collaborators: Robin Dewhurst on piano [yes, dad of Josh Dewhurst of Stockport’s Blossoms – Ed.], Sarah Dale on cello and backing vocals, and Jonny Lexus at the production helm. ‘Tender’ will serve as the lead single for Little Sparrow’s interim project, an EP called ‘Just 3’ that is set to come out early next year.

Lyrically, ‘Tender’ is a sincere and singularly appropriate offering for the upcoming holiday season. Ware relates that the song was written about a member of her own family, and that it was intended to inspire its listeners to “remember people close to you and how much they mean to you.” As always, Little Sparrow’s sonic trademark is her exquisite vocal delivery, and she uses it to full effect here. Exceptionally beautiful in the high part of her register, Ware’s voice is warm, graceful and emotionally evocative throughout the song. Prepare for a gentle yet insistent tug on your heartstrings before you watch the promo video for ‘Tender’, playing just below.


Little Sparrow’s new single featuring Robin Dewhurst, ‘Tender’, is out today. You can find TGTF’s previous coverage of Little Sparrow collected right back here.


MP3 of the Day #896: Robin Dewhurst and Little Sparrow

By on Monday, 8th August 2016 at 10:00 am

Header photo from the Kendal Calling Twitter

I personally don’t need any further convincing. However, I realise you, the reader, might need another reminder that the greater Manchester area is just teeming with incredible talent. Stockport band Blossoms just released their eponymous debut album on Virgin EMI last Friday. (Read my review of Blossoms here.) Blossoms’ lead guitarist Josh Dewhurst proves the old adage ‘the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree’. Josh’s father Robin is a professor of music at the University of Salford and an accomplished musician in his own right.

Just this past weekend, he’s made a track he’s collaborated on free for download for a limited time. If you never thought there could be a successful reimagining of Madness’ 1980 hit ‘Baggy Trousers’, it’s time for a rethink. Robin and Little Sparrow (aka singer/songwriter Katie Ware) were invited by the Tim Peaks FM team to perform live at the Tim Burgess‘ themed coffee shop at Kendal Calling 2016. This was where they unleashed their spellbinding new cover version, named by the Tim Peaks FM team “one of the best cover versions we have heard in years!” To read more about the collaboration, check out this article by the Manchester Evening News.

To grab the intriguing wistful cover of ‘Baggy Trousers’ with the elder Dewhurst on piano, Little Sparrow on vocals and Sarah Dale on cello, visit the Kendal Calling site here. We’re looking forward to more from Little Sparrow, and we can’t help but hope that Robin continues sharing his talents to the world outside of his classroom.


Album Review: Little Sparrow – Wishing Tree

By on Tuesday, 8th September 2015 at 12:00 pm

Little Sparrow Wishing Tree coverSinger/songwriter Katie Ware took the stage name Little Sparrow after a conversation with Elbow frontman and amateur ornithologist Guy Garvey, who has championed her music on his BBC 6 Music radio programme, along with fellow 6 Music presenters Tom Robinson and Chris Hawkins. Little Sparrow’s debut album ‘Wishing Tree’ took its initial flight last year, and she has continued to gain momentum ever since, recently re-releasing the album’s eponymous title track as a single after slowly but steadily garnering interest via Internet exposure and an ever expanding audience for live performances.

Though she often performs as a solo artist, Ware’s delicate vocals are accompanied on the ‘Wishing Tree’ LP by intricate instrumental arrangements including richly evocative string melodies and artfully agile percussion. Nevertheless, Ware’s singing voice is truly the centerpiece of these songs, with a blissfully pure tone quality and flawless technique that affords her an incredibly high degree of emotional expressivity.

The songs on ‘Wishing Tree’ are unashamedly pretty without being feckless. Their lyrics are introspective vignettes of feelings rather than full narrative stories, and Ware’s vocals are appropriately self-possessed, carefully measured to achieve their maximum impact at precisely the right moments. The depth and subtle detail in the instrumental arrangements display a thoughtful artistry in setting the tone and context for both Ware’s voice and her lyrical content.

Plaintively longing opening track ‘Polly’ sets the tone for the album with a dramatic violin countermelody and softly clicking percussion before it makes the lyrical request “if I throw them to you, would you tie my wishes to a tree”, echoing the album’s title and foreshadowing its newly re-released single. The dense string arrangement of ‘Wishing Tree’ evokes the verdant forest imagery of its accompanying video and showcases the velvety sound of Ware’s lower register as she chants its haunting chorus.


The darkly expressive timbre of Ware’s lower voice contrasts with dizzyingly light and delicately executed high notes as she expertly traverses the extremes of her range in ‘Sending The Message’. Its hypnotic snare drum rhythm drops out in the song’s bridge section, allowing Ware’s vocals to blend to absolute perfection with the foundational melody in the low strings.

Early single ‘Struck Gold’ is a graceful country folk ballad whose gentle air of melancholy is heightened by the wail of pedal steel woven into the acoustic guitar and bowed strings. Despite its overt simplicity, the sweet melodicism of this track echoes in the listener’s ear long after the album is complete. The quicker tempo and shuffling drum rhythm of ‘I Found A Way’ underscore a more complex set of vocal harmonies, once again highlighting the remarkable range and flexibility of Ware’s singing.

‘The Hunted (A Bear’s Tale)’ is darkly ominous and starkly dramatic, calling to mind the intense brooding of Laura Marling as Ware intones the warning “don’t follow me to my cave / don’t come too close / I know you’re brave”. Her voice grows fuller and less restrained as she expands the lyrical idea, “don’t come too close / I can’t control myself / don’t come too close / I might lash out and I won’t forgive myself”.

Little Sparrow fully spreads her wings in the album’s final track ‘The Swallow Flies’, whose lyrics are redolent with natural imagery ranging from birds to fish and sky to sea. Bright and expansive with a broader dynamic and a resolute sense of forward motion, the song closes ‘Wishing Tree’ with a flourish, hinting at the breathtaking possibility and potential of what might come next from this delightful songbird.  New songs from Little Sparrow, the sooner the better, will certainly now be among the wishes on my own tree.


Little Sparrow’s album ‘Wishing Tree’ was self-released in 2014, and its featured single ‘Wishing Tree’ was re-released on the 27th of July this year. Both are available now. Little Sparrow is scheduled to appear live at the Sandbach Shop Sessions on the 24th of September and at St. Pancras’ Old Church in London on the 25th of September.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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