Raul Midón A World Within A World

The second disc from soulful singer-songwriter and guitarist Raul Midón continues down the path opened up by his previous effort, one where heavy soul, blues and funk influences are refracted though a distinctive pop prism aimed to ensure his ever-insightful tales touch the lives of many. Midón’s positive messages and uplifting vibes flow nicely throughout, with hints of Stevie Wonder seeping out of the singer’s animated vocal inflections on tracks like "Ain’t Happened Yet” and album opener "Pick Somebody Up.” The majority of this record’s cuts are delivered by no more than two or three people at a time, with Midón bouncing around from one type of guitar to another over a lone yet versatile percussionist, a surprising feat given just how full the tunes feel. The singer reveals his Argentinean roots on the Spanish "Caminando” and even dabbles in a little samba fusion with the subtle, syncopated charango strums of "Tembererana.” Meshell N’degeocello lends an unassuming hand on "Save My Life,” as Midón turns in another competent effort that finds joy in letting the music breathe through decided simplicity. (Blue Note)