A Man at Peace

by Guest Blogger August 08, 2013

Review of Denison Witmer's self-titled album, Denison Witmer 
by Chris Hess
A man at peace is easy to spot. The way he walks down the sidewalk. The low and steady current he carries with him into a room. His mind holds ground in shaky situations. A heart that beats true when it all feels unsure.

On his tenth album, alt-folk wordsmith Denison Witmer wears the mark of that man. The aptly titled Denison Witmer is self-reflective with the sure vulnerabilities of a man at—in—peace. The contemplative portrait of a now husband & father in the midst of a music career that began in his teenage years. He's been through cassette tapes and compact discs and MP3s and back to vinyl. The album is honed craft. Sharp and warm. Not full of risks but woven with the willingness to take unexpected turns.

"I'm too old to die young now. I'm better for it," Witmer sings on the opening track, "Born Without Words." His albums have always asked the listener to bring something to the table, and this self-titled effort is no different. Questions of age and experience. A good measure of self-doubt and important queries. "Is my mind at ease or am I jaded?" This album breathes with the encouragement, compassion, and honesty that comes with the realization of who we are—and probably more importantly—who we aren't meant to be.

"Asa" is the album's hymn, if it might have one. A someday old poem from a father to his son, it's the only song on the album not written by Witmer, but by Bry Webb of Constantines. Witmer's version has the soul of a message stumbled upon in dusty old pages, ringing true in the heart of hearts. Read over and over and made his own, an invitation to rest and grow.

Denison Witmer is not high-concept and it is not low-hanging fruit. It is a manifestation of a true thread running through human-ness. It is ontology in the Madeline L'Engle sense of the word. The word about being. Denison Witmer is an album of being: walking down sidewalks and carrying steady currents to others.


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