AbsolutePunk.net
   Username
Password
 
Album Review
 
Denison Witmer - The Ones Who Wait Album Cover

Denison Witmer - The Ones Who Wait

Reviewed by
8.9
Denison Witmer - The Ones Who Wait
Record Label: Mono Vs. Stereo
Release Date: April 26th, 2011
You know how artists write their best music when they’re down and out? The Ones Who Wait is disquieting enough that you don’t need the back story to figure out Denison Witmer recently went through hard times. It’s disquieting not in the sense that it’s disturbing, but that it’s heart-on-sleeve miserable. The first thing Witmer sings is, “Of all the weather here, I like rain the most” – quite a blanket of bleakness for an album opener. But when we find out why he chooses to set the scene this way, it makes sense: A large part of The Ones Who Wait is Witmer dealing with the death of his father.

The musical fabric of the album is pretty grand. The songwriting likes to produce climaxes, but not before teasing us by dragging out the build-up. My favorite example is the bridge in “Every Passing Day,” where Witmer resolves the melody dissonantly every time it seems like it’s on the brink of beauty. But when the climax finally hits, it’s breathtaking fanfare, with trumpets unleashed and all. Sometimes the songs have a more consistent dynamic, like in “One More Day,” which only needs a synth to be haunting, or in “Light On My Face,” where a man and his guitar are synced in somber mourning. Generally speaking, the album’s pretty diverse. “Brooklyn With Your Highest Walls” even brings a coffee shop jazz vibe.

The one song that sums the album up is “Cursing.” Witmer establishes that the album revolves around his father’s passing in opener “Hold On” when he sings “How a father always starts out as a son, how sometimes you’re both, sometimes you’re only one,” but it’s in “Cursing” that he really spills his emotions. “Cursing in the name of God, throwing both my hands up now,” he laments, and when he sings “Do you have a better idea than what I have?” he’s practically challenging the divine and the notion of a greater purpose for everything that happens in life. There’s so much frustration, disappointment and pain in this song alone; it bludgeons like an anvil, even when it comes after the dark “One More Day.”

Of course, Witmer’s spiritual roots run too deep for him to be completely buried by tragedy. It’s not every day that you come across an album that both grieves and overcomes, but in the closer “I Live In Your Ghost,” Witmer breathes solace. “There’s no mistake, you have a home for your soul,” he croons, and maybe there’s even a hint of a smile. It’s not to be confused with catharsis though, because none of what he sings on the final track seems to erase “Cursing’s” burden, but it’s clearly enough to help him carry on. The Ones Who Wait, then, is honest and believable. How many times in life are we denied the solution we want, but given just enough strength to keep going? In the end, that’s the sentiment Witmer meditates on, and that makes this album a soul quencher.

Recommended If You LikeElliott Smith, hints of Sufjan Stevens, hints of Iron & Wine
Track list1. Hold On
2. Brooklyn With Your Highest Walls
3. Life Before Aesthetics
4. Your Friend
5. Influence
6. Every Passing Day
7. Light On My Face
8. Two And A Glass Rose
9. One More Day
10. Cursing
11. I Live In Your Ghost

Find Denison Witmer on facebook.
This review is a user submitted review from Matthew Tsai. You can see all of Matthew Tsai's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
05:47 AM on 05/13/11
#2
thepianominstre
@joshuahedlund
Offline
User Info.
thepianominstre's Avatar
Cool. I streamed this album once (big fan of MVS and bands like Deas Vail) and didn't really get into it but I want to give it another chance. Definitely looking forward to seeing him at Cornerstone this summer.
09:08 AM on 05/13/11
#3
steve-0
i think youre an idiot
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
Man I didn't know he had a new album coming out. Sad to hear about his dad but it is really true that some of the best albums come out of really terrible situations (except Ben folds who kinda went crazy and wrote that last garbage album after his divorce).

I wasn't a fan of "carry the weight" but I hope this album delivers. I still listen to "of joy and sorrow" , "safe away" and "recovered" pretty often.
10:34 AM on 05/13/11
#4
NarcolepsySmile
Registered Member
Offline
User Info.
NarcolepsySmile's Avatar
I enjoyed this as something to be a background to my studying. I'll have to listen again.
10:55 AM on 05/13/11
#5
Matthew Tsai
Born and raised
Offline
User Info.
Matthew Tsai's Avatar
Cool. I streamed this album once (big fan of MVS and bands like Deas Vail) and didn't really get into it but I want to give it another chance. Definitely looking forward to seeing him at Cornerstone this summer.

It's a grower. He doesn't have a strong voice for this type of music, and sometimes the vocals are even somewhat weak, but the songwriting is very solid imo. Takes a while to get into, but once you do, the substance is definitely there.

Man I didn't know he had a new album coming out. Sad to hear about his dad but it is really true that some of the best albums come out of really terrible situations (except Ben folds who kinda went crazy and wrote that last garbage album after his divorce).

I wasn't a fan of "carry the weight" but I hope this album delivers. I still listen to "of joy and sorrow" , "safe away" and "recovered" pretty often.

Honestly, this is the first Denison Witmer album I've really been into so I need to check out his back catalogue. All I know is that I really, really like this album haha.
12:29 PM on 05/13/11
#6
awakeohsleeper
We never met, you and I
Offline
User Info.
awakeohsleeper's Avatar
I've got a few of his older albums. I need to check this out at some point.
12:45 PM on 05/13/11
#7
inthemidst
Grace and Peace
Offline
User Info.
inthemidst's Avatar
Awesome review, Matt. Surprised I haven't heard of this fellow yet, but you've compelled me to listen.
01:05 PM on 05/13/11
#8
The Grey Man
Team Larz
Offline
User Info.
The Grey Man's Avatar
Was thinking about checking him out when I heard he was on MVS. Gonna check him out now!
10:54 PM on 05/13/11
#9
reid
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
when i saw this was coming out, i bought sight unseen on vinyl. love me some denison witmer.

Matthew, if you're looking into his back catalog, i highly suggest "are you a dreamer?". It's got some great content.
11:32 PM on 05/13/11
Matthew Tsai
Born and raised
Offline
User Info.
Matthew Tsai's Avatar
when i saw this was coming out, i bought sight unseen on vinyl. love me some denison witmer.

Matthew, if you're looking into his back catalog, i highly suggest "are you a dreamer?". It's got some great content.
Thanks for the rec! I'm going to try to listen to that tomorrow.
09:09 PM on 05/14/11
jamesdarcy
Registered User
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
I'm a huge Denison Witmer fan, though I didn't even know he had a new album until I saw this thread a couple of days ago. After two days of listening to it --- I LOVE IT. I signed up for this site just to chime in on this thread. This new album seems like a reinvention. Though not every song is of the same caliber, the entire package is just amazing. I love the production and I feel like Denison has made a strong, cohesive, and timeless record... and it's really spooky at times in a way that I like. I don't understand why he's not huge considering how long he's been making great music.

Like I said, I've always been a fan, though I haven't always loved every moment of his music. I agree with steve-O that Carry The Weight wasn't his best moment, but songs like "Isn't It Poetry" "From Here On Out" and "Chesapeake Watershed" from that record are brilliant in my opinion. Are You A Dreamer is amazing though... It's more uplifting overall than this newest one.... and Sufjan Stevens plays on that one too.. .. I think that probably helped though I don't think Denison needs an idie god to make him sound better. This new album proves that.

NEWS, MUSIC & MORE
Search News
Release Dates
Exclusives
Best New Music
Articles
CONNECT
Submit News
Forums
Contests
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
HIDDEN TREASURES
AbsolutePunk Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Recommendations
INFORMATION
Advertising
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
FOLLOW
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
AP.net Podcast on iTunes
UnderTheGun
Purevolume
Chorus.fm | @jason_tate