The first thing that strikes you about Raul Midón is the supple soulfulness of his voice, which sometimes bears a striking resemblance to Stevie Wonder's, who, in fact, did a guest shot on Midón's debut. Next is that despite the similarity there's a lot in his vocal style—subtle jazz shadings, Latin phrasing, multi-octave and multi-textured unveiling of a lyric's every angle—to establish Midón as an original. Finally, there's his guitar work, as fluid, elegant, and expressive as his vocals, if more understated. Blind since birth, raised in New Mexico, the son of an Argentine father and African American mother, Midón has hit another high note with his second album, A World Within A World (Manhattan), an exquisitely tasty blend of high-caliber soul, virulent pop hooks, jazz, and Latin inflections. His songs have an uplifting, peace-love-and-understanding feel, but careful listening often reveals dark, unsettled hearts. A sunny "peace on earth" chorus, for instance, is overshadowed by the following line: "Yet there in the hallway lurks the ghost of war." There's far more depth to Midón than his soulful falsetto.
Mon., Oct. 15, 7 p.m., 2007