Singer-songwriter-guitar ace Raul Midón has crooned and strummed in a variety of styles over the years, working with an eclectic roster of artists that includes Shakira, Christina Aguilera and Johnny Mathis, but his 2017 album Bad Ass and Blind found him delivering what he told Billboard at the time was his “deep jazz” album. The result earned him his first Grammy nod, for best jazz vocal album, a feat he’d repeat the next year with If You Really Want.
Now, Midón is gearing up for the March 13 release of new album The Mirror, previewing it with new single “I Love the Afternoon,” an airy, affable number that shows off his strong, silky vocals over a pleasant, tropical-flavored jazz shuffle. You could easily imagine it playing on a turntable during a cocktail party in the ’50s, and Midón sells the mood admirably, telling Billboard “it’s a whimsical song about the virtue of idleness.”
His hands are hardly idle here, however, running over his acoustic guitar with an effortless dexterity while he sings about “old-time tunes” and “promises made in June.”
The Mirror, which Midón himself produced, includes vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Gerald Clayton. It also features two tracks that veer into spoken word territory. “It’s important that I surprise myself and my listeners,” he says. “Take the spoken-word pieces, for instance. I grew up listening to artists who were rappers before rap, like Gil Scott-Heron, so I’ve always wanted to take that sort of approach to something. I think hearing me speak the words over the music makes it especially personal — which is particularly true with ‘If I Could See,’ where I’m talking about something very intimate for me.”
Midón is slated to perform at SXSW (which takes place from March 13-22 this year) in addition to a slew of North American and overseas dates.