“With the loose-lipped lyrical dexterity not seen since The Magnetic Fields‘ Stephin Merritt, psych-pop sensibilities that seem commonplace in some parts of Wales and bittersweet melodies reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian, North Walian-born Stephen Black weaves together not only his most concise and comprehensive record to date but perhaps the best indie-pop album of the year thus far.” The Line Of Best Fit
Sweet Baboo is Stephen Black, a native of the north Wales countryside and a single-minded, idiosyncratic singer. Black possesses an ear for a sparkling melody, a restless soul, and a gift for a deft lyrical turn – from darkly funny to piercingly tender, twinklingly boastful to deliciously self-deprecating.
Sweet Baboo’s third album, I’m a Dancer/Songs About Sleeping, was nominated for the inaugural Welsh Music Prize in 2011, a year which also saw the release of his EP, Girl Under A Tree. Influenced by fond musical favourites, The Beach Boys, Daniel Johnston and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Girl Under A Tree tells tales of girls, loss, adventure and drinking.
Over the last few years, Sweet Baboo has played at Latitude, Green Man Festival, SXSW and The Camden Crawl, as well as touring Germany with Johnny Flynn and the UK with Islet and Slow Club. He has also been invited to record sessions for BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley, Huw Stephens and Stuart Maconie. Notably, Black’s song How I’d Live My Life (AKA The Bumblebee Song) is the soundtrack to a series of TV spots for the Visit Wales tourist board campaign.
Black’s productivity is all the more remarkable given his extra-curricular activities which have seen him working with an ever-growing array of musicians. Black has played on albums by Cate Le Bon, Slow Club and H. Hawkline, and has been a regular part of the touring line-up for all three bands. He has also performed with and produced Euros Childs, The Pictish Trail, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, Islet and Spencer McGarry Season and collaborated onstage and in the studio with Gruff Rhys. 2012 saw Sweet Baboo set off on a world tour as part of Slow Club’s live band as well as a North American and UK tour in Cate Le Bon’s touring band.
In between world tours, Black found time to record his fourth full-length album, a concept album about the sea which is tentatively titled Ships, with long time collaborator The Voluntary Butler Scheme. The latest instalment in the Sweet Baboo saga sees Black indulge in his love of super brass-heavy pop and was undoubtedly one of 2013’s finest albums.