Little Sparrow, real name: Katie Ware is an English singer/songwriter based in Manchester. Her backing band consists of Sarah Dale on cello and vocals, Graham Clark on violin, Johnny Lexus on electric guitar and vocals, and Mitch Oldham on percussion. Ware herself also plays guitar for her songs.
Elbow frontman Guy Garvey affectionately referred to Ware as ‘Cockney Sparrow’, and it was three years ago when Ware felt ‘Little Sparrow’ seemed more fitting. She also claimed it characterised the sound she was going for. Her debut album ‘Wishing Tree’ was released on May 6th, 2014, with the first single ‘Struck Gold’ released on December 5th, 2014.
A sparrow does seem fitting for the first half of Wishing Tree, as Ware keeps her vocals at a high pitched volume, but not so high that you’ll be covering your ears. The first song ‘Polly’ introduces the album with a catchy beat and a nicely blended mix of acoustic guitar and violin. The album then dips with mellow tracks ‘By My Side’ and ‘The Flame’, before uplifting the listener again with the album’s title track ‘Wishing Tree’. A similar pattern occurs throughout the album.
They say every album needs at least one song that jumps out at the listener, and ideally, this is the song you release to the public. ‘Struck Gold’, the sixth track on the album, was a good choice for release. The main reason is that Ware finally rests her high-pitched signature vocals and adopts a better fitting low-pitched chord. The song doesn’t stray from the old reliable theme of finding love, and the video, despite being filmed using one shot, portrays that of a short film dedicated to this love. Ware takes the camera in her stride and doesn’t falter when the musical interval kicks in. This girl knows how to perform to an audience.
Ware keeps up with the low-pitched vocals throughout the second half of the album, occasionally mixing it with her ‘sparrow’ pitch in songs like ‘Sending the Message’ and ‘Heart’. It is an overall mellow album, something to relax to after a long day. It starts and ends with an upbeat track, exploring themes that have been used by almost all musicians such as love and struggle, and exploring rare themes (in music, anyway) in songs like ‘The Hunted (A Bear’s Tale)’.
Ware’s music is said to be inspired by that of Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and All About Eve, and definitely falls into the country genre. In fact, ‘Little Sparrow’ is also the name of an album by Dolly Parton, a country favourite, though whether or not this was in part an inspiration for Ware’s stage name is unknown.
There is great potential with Little Sparrow. While Wishing Tree is an enjoyable album with a hint of originality, it seems that Ware almost holds back a little, or perhaps that was the intention. This could just be a taste of what’s coming next.