Although they come few and far between—Wishing Well is his first in nearly a decade—the release of a new Richie Havens album has become both a genuine treat for his devotees and yet anot

Although they come few and far between—Wishing Well is his first in nearly a decade—the release of a new Richie Havens album has become both a genuine treat for his devotees and yet another chance for him to easily win lifelong fans. Havens has long been one of that rare breed of troubadour that needs only a single exposure—a concert, a live TV or radio performance, whatever—to win over a listener/viewer completely. And his rich baritone, one of the most memorable and distinctive voices of the past 40 years, and strikingly unique strumming doesn't disappoint here, especially on the perfectly Middle Eastern-tinged "The Well" and his take on "Love Is Alive." With all respect to the artist's self-penned songs—six of the 10 cuts, including "The Well," are his—the most exciting moment arrives at the end of the disc, where Havens delivers a stunning cover of Pink Floyd's "On the Turning Away." Havens and Floyd—what a perfect match! "Slow Down," ironically the most upbeat track on the disc, is a wonderful change of pace, the type that Havens should try more often. However clichéd it may sound, this acoustic soul giant truly seems to be getting more inspiring and graceful with age.—WO

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