It’s been a busy year thus far for Cardiff-based singer-songwriter Stephen Black. Contributing to Euros Childs’ ‘Son of Euro Child’, Cate le Bon’ ‘Me Oh My’, and Spencer McGarry’s Season’s ‘Episode 1’, Black has become quite the darling of the Welsh music scene. And somewhat of a savour of independence, too: the humbled success of his debut album ‘The Mighty Baboo’ released on his own Businessman Records in January drew admiring glances from the likes of BBC’s Mark Riley and Tom Robinson – and justly so.
‘Hello Wave’ is cheerfully enticing second effort from Black under his alias of Sweet Baboo, something that resonates with talent and integrity from the off. Opener ‘If I’m Still in Love…’ recalls anecdotal details of his journeys around America set against jauntily arranged guitars, cajoling and endearing the listener with his country/folk warblings. Where Black truly shines is in his ability to lighten serious subject matter with his organic orchestrations and jovial and quirky lyrical detail upon the likes of ‘How I’d Live My Life Aka The Bumblebee Song’ and ‘Little Bernadette’.
Sweet Baboo is an astonishingly original musician for our time, unfettered by a need to seek approval from scene credibility or capitulated to the needs of a record company’s point of sale. Black is a talented troubadour, whom if he had a political bee in his bonnet, could take unravel the most criminal of cabals with his harmonious and mellifluous undulations and clarity in deliverance; although this is not evident in ‘Hello Wave’, it must simply be enjoyed on face value – and that is one of optimism and hope.