Denison Witmer is the stunning new album from Philadelphia's Denison Witmer, which is due to be released on Asthmatic Kitty Records on 6 May. A collection of 10 songs inspired by love, loss, self-affirmation and self-discovery. Witmer's gentle sound is thoughtful and atmospheric as the album engulfs the listener and continues to unveil itself upon each hearing. The release of his self-titled disc-his ninth full-length-comes as an occasion to reflect on what he's learned from a career in music: to be patient, to trust in happy accidents, and to admit every once in a while that he isn't totally in control.
The album was inspired by an epiphany that Denison had when visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. On viewing the early work of one of his artistic heroes, Denison was struck by the vast array of Van Gogh's earlier works, before his most famous period. He had a simple, yet powerful, realisation that our past experiences truly shape who we are and have a profound impact on the present. Music, like art, is more about the process, song by song and album by album in pursuit of "something". Denison Witmer, the album, brings Denison Witmer, the artist, one step closer to that something.
Last year's The Ones Who Wait (Asthmatic Kitty, 2012) was created when Denison was on one hand still raw from the death of his terminally ill father and on the other elated by the birth of his son Asa. His intimate and raw vignettes garnered praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, who referred to Witmer as "...our favorite underrated singer-songwriter..." and The Scottish Daily Express said that "Witmer deserves to finally hit the big time with this warm and gentle collection of Americana-folk."
The new album looks towards the future as much as it reflects upon the past. Having helped build a recording studio called The Honey Jar in Brooklyn with friend and producer Devin Greenwood, Witmer found it was possible for him to create a recording using the same intuitive processes that drove his songwriting. He brought in trusted collaborators like Greenwood, Sufjan Stevens, William Fitzsimmons and Rosie Thomas, and gave them free reign to realise his music. The studio has given him the control he needs, in other words, to relinquish control.
In an age of flashy pop hits that give off more light than heat, Denison's music is, like his career, a slow burn, but it offers an enduring warmth. He makes "quiet music" (his words), intimate and introspective, that trusts his audience to bring something of themselves to it.
Listen to the track "Keep Moving Brother, Keep Moving Sister" here