Fine soul singer brings everything but the songs
There’s an ongoing tug of war throughout Raul Midón’s sophomore album. On one side, vying for the listener’s affections, are Midón’s obvious musical gifts—a supple, soulful vocal delivery that recalls Stevie Wonder; a driving, percussive acoustic-guitar style; a soaring falsetto; and the uncanny ability to perfectly mimic a trumpet with his voice. On the other side, threatening to undo all the goodness, are the songs themselves, which range from blandly nondescript odes to positive thinking to embarrassingly muddled metaphysical meditations on war, suffering, God and the Devil. Midón can surely sing, and he’s at his best on “Save My Life,” an old-school evocation of mid-’70s Philly soul, and “Ain’t Happened Yet," a joyous dollop of street-corner doo-wop. But the hamfisted social commentary sabotages this album at every turn. Midón is no Marvin Gaye. What’s goin’ on is insipid songwriting, and it hinders what could have been a neo-soul classic.