Raul Midon - A World Within A World (2007)

Raul Midon
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Raul Midon gathered a sizeable adult audience for his mildly eclectic acoustic offerings on his excellent debut album, State of Mind, but also risked facile (and unfair) categorization as another Norah Jones chaser onto the adult contemporary charts.  Fortunately, he has stretched out both stylistically and lyrically on his more upbeat, accessible sophomore disc, A World Within A World.

Raul Midon gathered a sizeable adult audience for his mildly eclectic acoustic offerings on his excellent debut album, State of Mind, but also risked facile (and unfair) categorization as another Norah Jones chaser onto the adult contemporary charts.  Fortunately, he has stretched out both stylistically and lyrically on his more upbeat, accessible sophomore disc, A World Within A World.

Midon lays out his lyrical premise - and the purpose for his music - on the album's leadoff song, "Pick Somebody Up."  But more importantly, he veers from the acoustic troubadour stereotype on the song, giving an organic R&B performance to kick off a disc that covers a lot of ground musically: from doo-wop ("Ain't Happened Yet") to modern urban ("All Because of You") to Latin ("Caminando") to pop ("The More That I Know") to Simon and Garfunkel-like folk ("Tembererena").  And producer Joe Mardin is up for the ride, taking a more active role than he did on State of Mind and giving World a contemporary feel and a groove that was generally absent from the previous album.

Midon's songwriting doesn't lean toward monster hooks, but rather relies on melodies that are relatively subtle yet effective.  And while nothing on A World Within A World is particularly radio-ready, the songs hang together well as a package.   So whether Midon is singing to a longtime lover on "All Because of You" or recalling in bittersweet fashion a deceased mother on "Song For Sandra," there is an almost thematic earnestness that pervades the entire album, an aura of seriousness that is often belied by the lighter arrangements, but which makes the project work well overall.

A World Within A World isn't an album that is going to make Raul Midon a multi-platinum artist.  But it is a solid disc that should please his existing fans and should make him a few more.  Equally importantly, it is a demonstration of Midon's versatility, a strong album that should help keep him out of the narrow acoustic box that could have resulted following his breakout debut album.  Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 

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