Raul Midón's marvelously supple and honeyed soul voice immediately earned comparisons to the likes of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway. Maybe toss in Al Jarreau and Bill Withers, too. The New Mexico native also has a gift for nuance, adding subtle textures and shadings while occasionally soaring skyward with his falsetto or scatting, all adding context to songs whose overt jauntiness and alluring melodies often belie dark subtexts. Midón also has an uncanny ability to simulate boppish trumpet forays with his mouth. And he's an exceptional guitarist, playing a fluid blend of classical, flamenco, and jazz with a syncopated pulse. His new, appropriately titled Synthesis (Decca) defies category and is a mash-up of soul, R&B, pop, folk, jazz, and Latin. A bristly funkiness takes charge here and there, while "Everyone Deserves a Second Chance" is a sly bossa nova, "Invisible Chains" has a reggae hitch, and "About You" is a taut ska workout and acidic kiss-off whose "cheerios" at the end are a clever nod to the English 2-Tone movement. In fact, Midón's lyrics are littered with sharp, sometimes barbed points about life, relationships, and the world at the large. Plus, he does a great cover of the Beatles' "Blackbird."
Tue., May 11, 7 p.m., 2010