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Sweet Baboo

The quirkily named Sweet Baboo is in fact the alias of Welsh singer/songwriter Stephen Black. Born in the rural village of Trefriw, Wales, Black's interaction with music was forged largely through his elder brothers, who introduced him to artists such as the Beatles and Guns N' Roses. He's been hooked on music and writing songs ever since. He joined rock/pop outfit JT Mouse before he decided to go it alone and began writing his own brand of psychedelic-laced country-folk music. He explored his diverse pop influences, such as the Beach Boys, the Monkees, Weezer, and Neutral Milk Hotel, while putting his own songs together; he requested a four-track recorder one Christmas to craft his own melodies. Black's debut album, Mighty Baboo, came in 2008 after a clutch of self-released singles and an EP, C'mon Let's Permoose (2004), had appeared a few years earlier. The Welshman then signed to Cardiff-based indie label Shape for his next two records, I'm a Dancer/Songs About Sleepin' (2010) and Girl Under a Tree (2011). His sophomore album, I'm a Dancer/Songs About Sleepin', received critical acclaim and in 2011 was nominated for the first edition of the Welsh Music Prize, which he eventually lost to Gruff Rhys. Black was then signed to Moshi Moshi Records in 2012, and in early 2013 a psychedelic, cat-inspired video appeared for his single "Let's Go Swimming Wild." The sea-themed concept album Ships quickly followed, and November 2013 brought the EP Motorhome Songs and an appearance on countrywoman Cate Le Bon's album Mug Museum. A collection of his live TV appearances titled The Marc Riley BBC Sessions was released on limited-edition vinyl in 2014. Enlisting arranger Paul Jones to help him streamline the instrumentation to focus on vocals, the fifth Sweet Baboo studio album, The Boombox Ballads, followed in the summer of 2015. Black retreated to North Wales to record his follow-up. Backed by multi-instrumentalists Paul Jones and Rob Jones -- who also helped produce and engineer the record -- the album was recorded in one week and was preceded by the single "Badminton." Wild Imagination was released in mid-2017.
© Scott Kerr /TiVo
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