Thank God for Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Jose Feliciano, for without their collective spirit, we would not be blessed with the superlative talent of Raul Midon and his debut recording State Of Mind. Raul Midon is at the top of my list for best male vocalist of the year in any contemporary style. Midon also plays guitar, he composes catchy tunes, he writes wonderful lyrics and he has developed an interesting method of scatting that is indicated in the liner notes as mouth trumpet. I hope that you buy more than one CD this year, but, if you only buy one CD, this is the one to check out.
The title track, "State Of Mind," a Midon composition has a great melody, an up-tempo song that has Midon playing guitar in a very percussive style. The phrasing he incorporates is reminiscent of Feliciano; it has a Spanish flavour emanating from the strumming guitar style. Midon has a smooth, silky voice that conveys bountiful amounts of emotional sound. The vocal becomes a lead instrument from the reed section, soothing and warm, as close to a little bit of heaven as you can find.
"Keep On Hoping" composed by Midon and Mraz has a Motown kind of sound, with great guitar solos running through the background. The feature is a vocal duet by Midon and Mraz. A wonderful pairing of vocal enchantment, harmonization’s of the call and answer variety that are fresh and joyful.
The song "Expressions Of Love," a Midon composition with arrangements by Stefon Harris and Joe Mardin, features a beautiful duet with Harris on vibraphone and Stevie Wonder on chromatic harmonica. An uplifting tune, "Sunshine," with a featured harmonica solo by Gregoire Maret, a driving rhythm by Eric Revis that provides perfect comping for vocal soloing on lyrical verses of passion, Midon sings, "Everyday I wonder why, peace on Earth’s so hard to find. Real peace begins inside, in our hearts and in our minds."
The CD is packed full of great songs and I would be hard pressed to find any negatives. The recording is well produced by Arif Mardin and Joe Mardin. The sound is great, complimented by a superb mix. The cast of characters on this project are one hundred and ten percent in the giving mood for a very special recording of Raul Midon’ State Of Mind.