Raul Midón

State of Mind

Here's another guitar-picking black guy you probably never would have heard of until some hip, alternative publication mentioned him first. On this recently dropped debut, New Mexico-born, New York-based Raul Midón shows why he's another hopeless optimist/romantic with a guitar.

Produced by the iconic Arif Mardin (who counts Norah Jones among his more recent coups) and his son Joe, this album is full of what I've now come to call boho bop: folksy, sparsely produced R&B full of uplifting, fanciful lyricism that's still poppy enough to play on the radio.

As usual, when a new, tradition-based cat like Midón hits the scene with a debut album, he acknowledges many of his influences on that album. Thus on "Expressions of Love," not only does he sound like Stevie Wonder, but Wonder also joins him on the track with his trusty harmonica. Elsewhere, Midón conjures the ghost of Donny Hathaway on "Sittin' in the Middle," and "Suddenly" suggests the Beatles' "Yesterday" both lyrically and musically.

Midón's boho bop shows its roots: Stevie Wonder, 
Donny Hathaway, George Benson.
Midón's boho bop shows its roots: Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, George Benson.

Overall, though, Midón's vocal riffing and rhythmic jauntiness will remind people most of George Benson. For the most part, as State of Mind shows, Midón has the potential to be another pied piper of adult-contemporary radio, soothing the ears of mature listeners who don't have the time, patience or intestinal fortitude for all that loud, aggressive hippity-hop.

 
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