Raul Midon brings a vibrant sound steeped in classic soul to the pop arena, because pop is where a singer and a song can have the biggest and most widespread impact. When an envelope-pushing song becomes a pop hit, it shifts the entire musical landscape, forcing out the shopworn and cliched while opening the windows of change to let in fresh ideas. The notion of shifting the landscape is this artist's passion; the wide-ranging skill sets he brings to bear on his mission provide him with the tools to pull it off.
The New Mexico-born, New York-based writer/vocalist/guitarist burst onto the scene in 2005 with his audaciously original debut album, State of Mind, and he's followed it up with an even more memorable song cycle, one that substantiates the depth of his talent and the degree of his dedication. A World Within a World, the title of the new album (Manhattan Records, Sept. 25), might refer to the status of pop music within the culture as a whole; it could also describe the expansive interior realm that this single-minded artist, blind from birth, has created with his imagination.
Midon is bringing currency to a rich tradition of pop inventiveness, combining the beguiling soulfulness of Stevie Wonder, the inventive appropriation of non-indigenous musical elements pioneered by Paul Simon and the trend-defying individuality of Bill Withers. These are mainstream artists who were on the charts and making art, Midon notes. There isn't that much originality in pop these days, because everybody is trying to sound like what they think might fit into the narrow formats on radio. But the best pop is as important as much as any music. I mean, I love Paul Simon or James Taylor or Prince as much as I love Miles. With A World Within a World, Midon aims to do his part to replant the pop wilderness.