‘The Boombox Ballads’ is the fifth album release from Sweet Baboo. In an effort to move away from the singer/songwriter label he had grown uncomfortable with and focus more on the craft of being a singer, Baboo teamed up with arranger Paul Jones, whose vivid accompaniments channeled the work of the likes of Scott Walker or Harry Nilsson.
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“You give me the Sweetest Baboo”.
So almost sang Sade back in the day. Head Baboo Steve Black certainly slathers on the sweetness on this album of quirky indie songwriting. It’s the type of stuff that will appeal to fans of Camera Obscura, Belle and Sebastien and Darren Hayman. ‘Got to Hang Onto You’ will set your teeth on edge if the word ‘twee’ has negative connotations for you. It’s bouncy, perky guitar pop with vocals and lyrics you’ll either find endearing or irritating depending on your viewpoint.
Black has made the move of bringing in an arranger in order to help him steer away from ‘singer-songwriter’ territory, and the first fruits of this are present on the jaunty piano led ‘You Are Gentle’. It’s pleasant enough but it’s hours later and I’m still waiting for a chorus. ‘Two Lucky Magpies’ is better, probably because it’s more melancholy -- the string arrangements are pretty lovely and it reminds me of the Divine Comedy’s more baroque moments. It’s a shame, then, that the dreadful sickly duet of ‘You Got Me Time Keeping’ reminds me only of the worst excesses of the Beautiful South. ‘Walking in the Rain’ is just horrid -- like eating an entire jelly then washing it down with several trifles. My ears are screaming - no more niceness.
It doesn’t seem right to hope that someone is sad but this album sounds much better when it’s sad.
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