Imagine a cover version of the iconic Madness track ‘Baggy Trousers,’ but brought to a new emotional level with soaring female vocals, keys with an almost visceral quality and emphatic cello. Well, imagination is no longer required – as Little Sparrow’s latest, much anticipated EP ‘Just 3’ (released 13 July) stars a strikingly powerful and fresh cover of ‘Baggy Trousers,’ along with Robin Dewhurst and cellist Sarah Dale.
Little Sparrow is the artist name of the much-loved Katie Ware, a singer-songwriter based in the North West who gained significant acclaim with the atmospheric acoustics and emotive resonance of her 2014 album ‘Wishing Tree.’
Now the ‘Just 3’ EP shows an even more developed side and sensitivity to her sound. The track ‘Baggy Trousers’ is sure to attract attention – a cover version created when Little Sparrow was featuring on the Tim Peaks Diner stage at Kendal Calling Festival, and was invited by the organisers to collaborate with the composer and musician Robin Dewhirst. They took on the song by slowing it down and adding intensity through instrumentation and an exploratory, evocative voice.
And that’s not all from the aptly-titled ‘Just 3.’ The EP also carries two other Little Sparrow original songs – ‘Tender’ and ‘Dry Your Eyes,’ completing an emotive and interesting listening experience. It certainly is an achievement for a musician who has encountered a number of complications along the way – as well as the added pressure of taking on a cover version. Little Sparrow is also working on an album for release next year. That’s why Bitter Sweet Symphonies’ Emily Oldfield was keen to talk to Little Sparrow about the new material, the direction of her music and plans for the future…
Hi Katie, how does it feel to be releasing the ‘Just 3’ EP?
“It feels great to be releasing something after having a little break from music! This is due to becoming a mum for the second time round, I haven’t had much time – or sleep for that matter – so everything takes a little longer to complete or organise. It’s been quite a journey this little EP, but we got there in the end and I’m chuffed to bits that it’s finally out there.”
Your album ‘Wishing Tree’ was received with much acclaim back in 2014. How has your sound changed since then and is there anything in particular you want this EP to express?
“I believe that my sound is evolving. I’m continuously learning about my own voice and what I enjoy doing with it. The new album material is definitely taking on a different feel, it’s more experimental, I’m very excited about it!
“Working with Robin has been lovely, he is a wonderful musician and extremely easy going, a delight to work with (plus he didn’t mind dressing up for the Baggy Trousers video which is always a plus point!). I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to work with such a talented pianist, it’s given me the chance to sing songs differently…I would say almost more intimate, more personal. The piano and the cello are a wonderful combination, there’s almost a sadness that arises from the two playing together, which make you want to close your eyes and just absorb the emotion.”
You and Robin Dewhurst meeting together at Kendal Calling must have been amazing! When you were asked to cover ‘Baggy Trousers’ together, did you agree straight away and why did you go for it?
“When we were asked to do the Baggy Trousers cover, I’ll be honest, I really didn’t think it would work. The way that Suggs almost talks through the verses, I was worried that I would sound like a constant drone trying to imitate him. However the thought of slowing it down and creating a completely different version became much more appealing and exciting. Upon speaking to Robin it was decided that this was the approach we would take.”
You also have the brilliant sound of Sarah Dale on cello and the EP is produced by Jonny Lexus. What does it mean to you to collaborate with people and why is this important?
“Sarah and Jonny are long term family members of Little Sparrow. They all play their part in the Little Sparrow sound. Collaborating with them is essential for me, they are like the secret ingredients to your favourite cake!”
What was the most rewarding thing of working on this EP?
“To meet another fabulous musician, make music and record with them, it doesn’t get more rewarding than that.”
Can you tell us a little more about your future plans?
“I’m hoping to bring the next album out in 2019 (sleep permitting!) Also a couple of new songs at the end of the year to tease you with. I would also like my future plans to involve more dressing up in crazy outfits…”
The new EP ‘Just 3’ is out now – and can be purchased direct from Little Sparrow’s website.
Photo Credit: Shay Rowan