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Raul Midon: State of Mind

I haven’t given any thought to who might be the 21st-century answer to Jose Feliciano. But if the question ever arises, I now know the response. His name is Raul Midon, he hails from New Mexico and he’s as gifted a songwriter as he is a vocalist and acoustic guitarist. The songs that fill his stunning, Arif Mardin-produced debut suggest he’s an indefatigable optimist, and it’s undeniable that the sunny Midon sounds, as a singer and player, like Feliciano-the similarity is often eerie.

In fairness, Midon is much more than just a Feliciano doppelganger. Indeed, the album seems a cacophony of three-decade old influences, including the Taylor brothers (James and Livingston), Mason Williams, Stevie Wonder (who’s not only represented by soundalike Jason Mraz, joining Midon on the spicy, reggae-trimmed “Keep On Hoping,” but pops in himself to add a harmonica solo to “Expressions of Love”), David Ruffin (on the distinctly Temptations-esque, Afro-Cuban “I Would Do Anything”) and Donny Hathaway (saluted with the sweetly idolatrous “Sittin’ in the Middle,” which sounds a lot like Paul Simon during his first wave of post-Garfunkel success).

Originally Published