State of Mind

State of Mind

5.0 2
by Raul Midón
     
 

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He's a phenomenal guitar player, a soulful singer, an innocently engaging songwriter. Raul Midón, who is also blind from birth and a twin, is clearly a record company dream, and his debut brings out the big guns, including producer Arif Mardin and Stevie Wonder (who lends harmonica and, one can assume, moral support). But Midón need not rely on name-dropping or on his… See more details below

Overview

He's a phenomenal guitar player, a soulful singer, an innocently engaging songwriter. Raul Midón, who is also blind from birth and a twin, is clearly a record company dream, and his debut brings out the big guns, including producer Arif Mardin and Stevie Wonder (who lends harmonica and, one can assume, moral support). But Midón need not rely on name-dropping or on his Cinderella story to attract attention. State of Mind makes the case from the first bars of the title track, which features his dazzling acoustic guitar technique. Synthesizing the stylings of artists such as Leo Kottke and Earl Klugh, Midón's precise picking and percussive attack is rich with harmonics and syncopation. It's easy to forget that he's only minimally accompanied (and never sequenced) on the album. When not deftly imitating a trumpet, Midón's voice invokes soul touchstones such as Wonder and Hathaway, as well as modern-day disciples such as Bryan McKnight. Confident on a ballad such as "Suddenly," deftly rhythmic on the flamenco-flavored "Never Get Enough," he's a perfect foil for his own hyperactive guitar. If there's any flaw to this sparkling introduction, it's that, in the lyrics department, Midón takes his obtusely spiritual cues from Wonder. But the genuine talent on display makes such criticism curmudgeonly at best. It's far better to focus on the fascinating journey that's just beginning for this remarkable artist.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
Hailed as one of the breakout releases of 2005, blind guitarist Raul Midón's major-label debut generally justifies the hype. He is a stunning acoustic guitarist with a percussive, at times Latin style, and a silky, inviting singer straight out of the Stevie Wonder/Donny Hathaway school. (Wonder plays on one track and Hathaway is the subject of another.) Midón's major-label debut was co-helmed by Arif Mardin, the legendary producer behind Norah Jones' successful first release. While musically there isn't much common ground between the two artists, Mardin's subtle, airy approach works perfectly here. He lets Midón's expressive voice and nimble acoustic guitar set the tone, adding hints of percussion, flute, vibraphone, acoustic bass, wispy keyboards, and occasional backing vocals to flesh out the songs. It's a successful formula, beefing up the music without making it overly slick. Despite the vocal similarity to Wonder, Midón establishes his own sound, singing uplifting songs of love and life with Latin and jazz flourishes that marinate in the stripped-down, acoustic arrangements. It's pleasant enough, but even with a few left turns such as the fiery conga- and flute-driven spoken word "I Would Do Anything," the style and songs tend to get a little repetitious as the album creeps past its midpoint. Unlike Wonder, Midón's lovely, smooth quiet storm voice doesn't shift often enough to a harsher side, something that would help this album shift gears out of cruise control and Sunday morning brunch mode. Regardless, this remains a beautifully focused and mature work. Midón has already found his voice and the intermingled jazz/Latin/folk/soul qualities indicate a musician who can move in any one of a number of directions after this impressive start.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/07/2005
Label:
Manhattan Records
UPC:
0724357133029
catalogNumber:
71330
Rank:
49015

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Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Raul Midón   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Conga,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Soloist,Mouth Trumpet,Guitar (Nylon String),Palmas
Dave Valentin   Flute
Lisa Fischer   Background Vocals,Soloist
Cyro Baptista   Percussion
Jerry Barnes   Electric Bass,Bass Guitar
Sammy Figueroa   Percussion
Joe Mardin   Piano,Drums,Palmas
Jonathan Maron   Electric Bass,Bass Guitar
Shedrick Mitchell   Hammond Organ,Hammond B3
Daniel Sadownick   Percussion,Bird Calls
Stevie Wonder   Harmonica,Soloist
Stefon Harris   Vibes
Eric Revis   Acoustic Bass
Grégoire Maret   Harmonica,Soloist
Jason Mraz   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Human Whistle,Soloist
Dave Valentine   Flute

Technical Credits

Andrew Logan   Arranger
Arif Mardin   Producer,Audio Production
Joe Mardin   Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Michael O'Reilly   Engineer
"Little" Louie Vega   Composer
Mark Wilder   Mastering
Femi Jiya   Engineer
Raul Midón   Arranger,Composer
Stefon Harris   Arranger
Dan Feiszli   Engineer
Jason Mraz   Composer,Whistle
John Fournier   Composer
Albert Menedez   Composer
Yohei Goto   Digital Editing
Gordon H. Jee   Art Direction

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