Sweet Baboo – Wild Imagination – Album Review
Sweet Baboo is the recording name for one Stephen Black. The Welsh musician hails from a rural background (born in Trefriw, near Snowdonia) but is now based in Cardiff. Despite his tender years, this new album is his seventh release, dating back to 2008. His musical influences include the likes of Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, which will give you an idea of the particular orbit he inhabits. It’s the follow up to 2015’s The Boombox Ballads, which exposed the darker side of his song writing ability. This new album is therefore a return to a happier place.
“I think everyone agrees 2016 was a pretty shitty year,” Black explains. “I kept thinking about my son (he’s nearly 3) and wanting to protect him from the world, so I decided to try and make an album full of positivity because that’s what I know I can do. And at the moment, I don’t know what else to suggest. As an aside, the album was originally going to be called Positive Recordings.” – Stephen Black
It opens with a flourish of horns with the Gardener at a mere 43 seconds. It’s a false start and very different from what is to follow. The first real song is the title track ‘Wild Imagination’ which is a dainty song for keyboard, drum machine and the odd touch of guitar. It’s deliberately cheesy, and doesn’t have any pretence at being more than it is, a gentle three minute pop song. It sets the tone for what comes after, with Swallows continuing with keyboard and vocals. His lyrics are prominent through the full album. It’s a spacious affair that never resorts to power chords or screams. The second single Badminton is possibly the best of the bunch, stripped to a subtle bass line and simple piano, along with the vocals. Humberside adds a whistle to the marching chorus for another fine moment. The album finishes with ‘Californ-i-a’, which is an slightly sad tale of a trip by sea.
‘Yesterday you were on fire, you left me feeling tired,
but I’ve a good thing going on in my life, I’m on a roll’ – Badminton
As per Stephen’s aspirations, this is a light and enjoyable album. There are many negative connotations to pop music, but when it is at its best, there is a certain joyous feel to it. The simplicity of the message and lightness of touch. It’s all contained here and is satisfying throughout. An album that will slip away as quickly as you turn it on, but may find a place in your heart.
1. The Gardener
2. Wild Imagination
5. Clear Blue Skies
6. The Night Gardener
7. Hold On
8. Pink Rainbow