Still a Contender

Nobody Left to Crown
Verve Forecast B0011631-02

After opening Woodstock and recording twenty-eight albums, sixty-seven-year-old Richie Havens could rest on his laurels. Instead, he’s released a Grammy-worthy record. Havens is in superb voice, his trademark gravel now smoother, mellower, and sweeter. But time has not dulled his roar. In “Say It Isn’t So” Havens expresses incredulity of being suckered into another “war without end.” If you miss the point, he follows with a brilliant acoustic cover of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” If you’re waiting to be led to glory, Havens insists there’s “nobody left to crown” and that “scoundrels rule the roost.” And the slave master in “Fates” sounds a lot like Dubya. Havens still wails on his open-tuned Guild like a man-possessed, but his mature singing is a clinic in how to be soulful and poignant without being histrionic.

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