Listen to an interview with Stephen Black here:
About the album
Sweet Baboo est le projet du musicien gallois Stephen Black. Avec six albums au compteur, le songwriter
revient avec un album volontairement positif et qui dégage une forte volonté d’honnêteté. Alternant
passages pop dynamiques et une mélancolie qu’on pourrait presque qualifer de tonique, Black cherche à
marcher dans les traces des groupes qui l’ont inspiré, de Arthur Russell à Stereolab en passant par Harry Nilsson.
Composé uniquement par le gallois, épaulé par le multi instrumentiste Rob Jones, le disque est truffé
d’idées mélodiques et retrouve l’audace de production de l’âge d’or des Beach Boys. Une autre infuence
avouée de la production de “Wild Imagination” est Mort Garson et son album « Plantasia », composé au
Moog pour aider les plantes à pousser. Une preuve de plus de l’esprit un peu loufoque et imaginatif qui
réside derrière la création de ces morceaux.
La pop music de Sweet Baboo est inévitablement psychédélique mais elle réussit le tour de force
d’aborder de manière universelle des sentiments très personnels et des situations réalistes: la vie de jeune
père et l’avancée dans la vie d’adulte notamment.
Stephen Black aka SWEET BABOO fait aujourd’hui partie intégrante du groupe de Cate Le Bon.
This is what SB’s friend Cate Le Bon had to say on the album:
« Sweet Baboo a.k.a Stephen Black a.k.a “the most androgynous woman since Mo Tucker” almost packed it all in at the dawn of 2016. Fortunately you cannot split up yourself.
I suggested he fake his own death. It was met with distain at my lack of understanding. But I understood. I love and know him well. A man like him cannot throw the towel in on something that is integral to his composition. What he needed was an attitude adjuster.
The first time I saw SB play it was 2002 and I was immediately enamored. He was a greasy slip of a man, drunk and drinking, singing songs that were both absurd and heart breaking on an acoustic guitar with a damp rollie hanging from the corner of his lip.
It was really real.
Baboo has been prolific in the years since constantly writing, recording and self-releasing music with the single-minded fury of a man who simply must for his own sanity and with little to no acknowledgement of an audience.
Thankfully Marc Riley’s undying love alone for SB has seen to it that there was and always will be audience enough. The unexpected success of his 2013 album, Ships, his first release on Moshi Moshi, was a triumph. Single after single was A listed on BBC 6 Music and festival crowds were singing his songs.
Viva Sweet Baboo!
But a window had now been opened to an idea of an audience that was undefined and so, impossible to please. He was catching a pneumonia that was disrupting his natural creative process. It became a lengthier, more laborious and worrisome time trying to construct the next album. The expectation and pressure he was shoveling on top of himself engulfed everything in sight.
He came out the other end with The Boombox Ballads, an album that was nothing short of brilliant but the joy had expired and the media and radio response fell short of Ships’. He wrongly identified it as failure. The sweat pants were donned and the grey pipe was entered.
“Success is a self-build, Steve” but he was not coming out of the pants or the pipe for a long while yet. The knots he’d tied himself up in resulted in him slamming the window to the outside world and nailing it shut. Months passed. The pneumonia let up.
“I’m making a new album” he popped his head out from the pipe to tell us all “and I don’t give a fuck anymore”.
“You never really have” I answered “but will you kindly take off the sweat pants? “
He was already on his way North to carve out the next record at his childhood home. It happened in the blink of an eye. There was palpable joy in the air. Abandonment and freedom were fully employed as he made music for his own gratification again. Joy to the world. Halleluiah. Halleluiah….and so on and so forth. The result is lucid and genuine.
The greasy slip is let loose on synths and drum machines and is singing of Clear Blue Skies and Badminton. He’s wearing real trousers again and they’re quite fancy. The sickness is the cure!
Baboo has crafted realms of escapism and forged reactionary landscapes to the absurdity of the times and of life as a touring musician. Dream sequences are coupled with the concrete of the mundane, both serving as a retraction from a reality he no longer wants to subscribe to. The accompanying music follows suit. The weight of the melodies coupled with the whimsy of the instrumentation. Within the honesty there is no agenda other than the salvation of his sanity, a mancoming to terms with his existence and role on planet earth and its’ forever changing wallpaper.
And that, dear reader, is how our mercurial genius, Sweet Baboo, dressed in a sensible shirt, wool cardigan and slacks, is able to sing a funk song about Pink Rainbows whilst nobody bats an eyelid.
That was the question…was it not? »
Cate Le Bon