Raul Midón: The Mirror
Eleven studio albums into his career, Raul Midón has fashioned a singular approach; his voice and guitar are instantly identifiable. But more important, his music comes with a guarantee—put on a tune, any tune, and the warmth of it will embrace you, no questions asked. When Midón, in the jaunty, lyrical, samba-esque opening track, declares, “I Love the Afternoon” (which features a background vocal by Manhattan Transfer’s Janis Siegel), there isn’t a hidden agenda—what he means is that he loves the afternoon, and his words explain why; if you’ve not considered it recently, then he’ll have you realizing soon enough that you do too. That isn’t to suggest that there’s a lightweight quality to the songs on The Mirror (or any of Midón’s previous efforts), only that the feel-good qualities he exudes are natural and real. “Deep Dry Ocean”—which features and was co-written by the superb pianist Gerald Clayton—is spare and bucolic, lilting rhapsodically, the verses framed by a tidily executed Midón acoustic guitar solo that manages, in under a minute, to exude the soul of his playing. A pair of spoken-word tracks add another dimension—“If I Could See,” yes, is the work of a blind man, but its sentiments are universal. And “One Day Without War” is another vibe entirely, but maybe not—it’s a musing on an ideal state that this planet may or may not ever experience. Without a hint of stridency, Midón wonders if that can ever be and maybe, just for a minute or two, he’ll make you wonder too.