As well as recording his own material, both solo and in various bands, he has also written songs for, and with, Eddi Reader, and had his tracks recorded by a multitude of artists including Natalie Imbruglia, Paul Young and k.d. lang. Growing up in Cambridge, Boo played in several bands prior to forming The Bible, the band that kick-started his career.
“I was always a fan of a band called Your Dinner. There were loads of great bands,” says Boo when asked about the local music scene at the time. “Demo, Dolly Mixture; The Roaring Boys were also around. The Roaring Boys got a huge deal with Epic. Later I stole their drummer and guitarist for The Bible when we signed to Chrysalis for our second album.”
With songs like Graceland and Honey Be Good the band flirted with commercial success, and their records always received excellent reviews. In addition, Glorybound is one of the recordings Nick Hornby talks about in his book 31 Songs. But, despite a dedicated cult following, they never managed to translate critical acclaim to financial gain.
“Our lack of significant income made things hard and we all had other irons in the fire so we stopped for a bit,” recalls Boo. “When I got a solo deal at Warners we had another go and made our third album Dodo. I still love it and its rejection hit us pretty hard. Cue ten-year hiatus.”
After leaving The Bible, Boo released his first solo album Ignorance in 1992. It was around this time that he met Scottish singer-songwriter Eddi Reader, with whom he has regularly collaborated with for over 20 years, when she came to sing on a record he was producing. Boo wrote and co-wrote several songs for Reader’s eponymous debut.
The Hewerdine-penned Patience of Angels reached number four a nomination for the prestigious Ivor Novello award for songwriting and Reader the Best British Female at the Brit Awards in 1994.
“The secret? We support each other and give each other space. She is better now than at any time. Pretty inspiring,” says Boo on the subject of his successful ongoing collaboration with Reader.
Boo has released six solo LPs to date, including Harmonograph, an album on which he recorded his own versions of songs he’d written with, or for, other artists. While it may be viewed as an attempt to reclaim these songs and deliver them as originally intended, Boo insists he just fancied having a go himself, saying that he’s liked every version of his songs “except one… which shall remain a secret.”
Writing for others has always been natural for Boo: before he could even play an instrument himself, he would write songs for local bands: “I’d just go round their house and sing at them,” he says. “I got such a buzz off that. And some of them would do my songs, amazingly.”
With such a rich and varied legacy of songs and recordings Boo struggles to pick out an all-time favourite, but cites the Nashville Bluegrass Band’s version of his track Slow Learner as a standout.
“They’re an amazing band,” he says, adding, “It’s always exciting to hear what people do to my tunes.”
Boo has got a busy year ahead with the release of his new solo album My Name in the Brackets and a world tour with Reader in support of her album Vagabond. He has also recently co-written and produced two albums, VIP with Findlay Napier and Secret Life with Dark Green Tree.
:: Boo plays at Cambridge Junction on 31 May at 8pm; tickets are £13.