Raul Midon - Bad Ass and Blind (2017)

Raul Midon
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Raul Midon - Bad Ass and Blind

Raul Midon, as the title of his latest CD makes unmistakably clear, is very much comfortable in his own skin. He is both a bad ass multi-instrumentalist, a great songwriter, a power packed singer who can range from baritone to falsetto with ease, and a vocal simulator whose impersonation of a trumpet is so exact that I’ve heard him perform it on projects that feature top flight trumpeters and I was hard pressed to distinguish between the two.

Midon and his twin brother Marco, who is a NASA engineer, have been blind from birth, so bad ass-ness runs in the family. Still, it takes some audacity to name a record Bad Ass and Blind because the prevailing perception of anyone living with a physical impairment remains that of vulnerability. However, Midon’s music has always projected energy, optimism and virtuosity, and that is the case on Bad Ass and Blind.

Raul Midon - Bad Ass and Blind

Raul Midon, as the title of his latest CD makes unmistakably clear, is very much comfortable in his own skin. He is both a bad ass multi-instrumentalist, a great songwriter, a power packed singer who can range from baritone to falsetto with ease, and a vocal simulator whose impersonation of a trumpet is so exact that I’ve heard him perform it on projects that feature top flight trumpeters and I was hard pressed to distinguish between the two.

Midon and his twin brother Marco, who is a NASA engineer, have been blind from birth, so bad ass-ness runs in the family. Still, it takes some audacity to name a record Bad Ass and Blind because the prevailing perception of anyone living with a physical impairment remains that of vulnerability. However, Midon’s music has always projected energy, optimism and virtuosity, and that is the case on Bad Ass and Blind.

Midon’s projects have had a quality that sets them apart, and this record finds him again embracing jazz and improvisation. Anyone who saw the YouTube video of Midon performing “Giant Step” accompanied by his acoustic guitar and mouth trumpet would not be surprised by tracks such as the swinging and wide open “Wings of Mind” and “All That I Am,” or the more downbeat and acoustic bass driven “If Only,” which is one of the standouts on Badass and Blind.

Beyond the excellent musicianship heard on “If Only,” a tune that shifts from a bluesy bass-driven swing to a bossa nova inspired breeziness on the song’s hook, and that features solid solo work on electric guitar and piano, is Midon’s penchant painting vivid pictures with his lyrics. On this song the vocalist sings of the serenity he could find in the arms and dreams of his heart’s desire…if only things had been different.

On “Red, Green, Yellow,” Midon uses the image of the traffic signal and the way that it controls traffic as a metaphor for the way in which the cares of this world can consume and take over our lives: “Hook allowance for some compensation/Put down a payment on your peace of mind/Leave in time to take a long vacation/Just so you can fall behind.” “Pedal to the Medal” deploys rock influenced guitars that drive home the tune’s theme about the virtue of putting his entire heart and soul into whatever he does. “Just in case doesn’t win the race/Won’t get your buried treasure/With compromise and half measure/Push on through til you get to the other side/I put the pedal to the metal.”Midon’s rangy and emotive vocal instrument makes him a ideal balladeer, and that comes through on “You and I,” a track that finds him moving from a soft and buttery falsetto to tenor and then to baritone, as he expresses his unshakable and unmovable love.

Badass and Blind is Midon’s sixth studio album, and although the singer/songwriter has proven to be an artist who can operate in multiple genres, he has been around long enough for certain themes to emerge, one of which has been the unfortunate disconnect between the commercial success of his work and its quality. I hope that the commercial side catches up with the critical acclaim this time, because this Badass and Blind singer and songwriter has delivered yet another gem. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 

 
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