Raul Midón: If You Really Want
Not every singer knows how to connect with a full orchestra and, certainly, not every orchestra is equipped to accompany a non-classical vocalist. But Raul Midón and the 50-pluspiece Dutch Metropole Orkest have it down. The orchestra, founded in 1945 and conducted on this latest collaborative effort by Vince Mendoza, has been working with vocalists for years. Their command of pop and jazz comes naturally; it’s not slumming to them. Midón, although accustomed to working within much smaller settings, is more than capable of matching the grandeur of the Orkest, but also acutely aware of when not to flaunt the bigness at his disposal. He understands dynamics and allows a song to dictate what it needs. If You Really Want is Midón’s Grammy-nominated 10th album, following the also nominated Bad Ass and Blind, and is a bold statement on his part. Often, as on the opening “Ride on a Rainbow,” it’s the restraint and the subtle accents that give a song its strength: Midón’s voice, guitar and, on this track, banjo, are never overwhelmed. “God’s Dream,” the ballad that follows, finds the singer enveloped, but never swallowed, by the swells and swirls of the orchestral arrangement. The crescendos come and go, sometimes arriving with great flourish, at other moments disappearing into the fabric. In “Sunshine (I Can Fly),” Midón takes a ride on the percussion underlying his words, while on “Everyone Deserves a Second Chance,” he’s content to luxuriate in the romance of the strings. Throughout, there’s that voice— passionate and confident—with Midón giving each word his full attention so you know he means it.