Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker announce ‘Birds EP’

Listen To Lead Track ‘The Cuckoo’ Now:

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Rough Trade Records are excited to announce the release of ‘The Birds’ EP by Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker. The six track EP will be released both digitally and as a very limited edition 12” – 650 copies worldwide, to co-incide with them supporting Richard Thompson on his sold out UK Tour this October. A very limited quantity of the EP on CD will also be for sale via the Rough Trade Records Webstore, otherwise only available on the band’s merch table!

‘The Birds’ is a suite of six songs that explore the themes of migration and departure. These are songs of autumn and shorter days, of flying south and the first feelings of early winter. It is deliberately dark and melancholic and ever so slightly sinister in places.  In contrast to the full band-sound so exquisitely captured on their 2016 album ‘Overnight’, Josienne and Ben chose to record in a minimalist way using only instruments that they could play in Ben’s basement home studio. It also allowed Ben the opportunity to experiment with Moog and drum machine rendering the songs with a subtle electronic texture.

Here are Josienne’s descriptions of each track:

The Birds

“ ‘The Birds’ is about that first cold breeze of Autumn/Winter, it’s always accompanied by a shift in mood for me. A kind of longing, a melancholy, the dusky afternoons, the long dark nights. One can kind of see why some birds might avoid it and whilst I love a bit of melancholy there’s always that bit of me that longs to go with them to somewhere lighter and warmer. “

Little Sparrow

“A beautiful Dolly Parton tune, that captures the sparse longing of winter. It’s the image of a little Sparrow that “flys so high and feels no pain”  I’d always sung it A Capella as a little mic test tune at soundchecks and then Ben had this great bluesy electric part he added one day and we started performing it.”


Darkling Bird

“ ‘Darkling Bird’ Is The Magpie, a bird with a slightly dark folkloric image. There is something very melancholic about them with which I naturally identify, and of course they have this reputation as thieves. I got some inspiration for this from the Thomas Hardy poem ‘Darkling Thrush’ which is a winter setting, but whereas in that the Thrush is a symbol of hope, in mine the magpie is more ominous. 

It also contains a reference to Rossini’s opera La Gazza Ladra (The thieving Magpie) “all desire for acquiring of a silver spoon” where a magpie causes no end of trouble by pinching a spoon. “  



“I saw two crows in a tree last winter and this single line came to me about how sinister they look. Ben rather liked it so he set an instrumental quartet around it.”


The Cuckoo

“A traditional folk song about a transient bird most commonly associated with spring who flies at the first sign of winter, they are mostly solitary birds. Ben decided to counter the traditional with the modern on this setting by using his moog to create pulsing drones and percussive layers.” 


Fly South

“This is the main murmuration metaphor to conclude the suite, the birds are about to leave. The layered vocals in the chorus Ben has arranged to depict the image of a flock of birds swooping and swirling in the sky before departing south.”


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