Denison Witmer - Are You a Dreamer?
Release Date: July 26, 2005
Record Label: The Militia Group
The Militia Group's Denison Witmer doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the bands on the label's roster or with the majority of the bands and genres mentioned and listened to on this website. However, those willing to take the leap will be greatly rewarded with a reflective, thoughtful, honest folk album.
Witmer's humble voice delicately graces a melancholic acoustic guitar throughout the CD, with harmonies and understated backup instrumentation making appearances in most songs. The conscionable, responsible drumming, the infrequent, melodic, clean guitar lines, the sparing, yet delightful use of Sufjan Steven's talents on banjo--all these add layers of color and beauty, augmenting the inherent quality of the songs. The careful use of additional vocals and these instruments makes their appearances that much more significant, that much more expressive.
Though I usually don't really pay that much attention to lyrics (I usually pay more attention to melody), the honesty and clarity of Witmer's delivery makes it hard to ignore. Exploring themes of ambition, life, dreams (as the title of the record might suggest), and other such topics, Witmer's lyrics are straight to the point, yet are very effective, personal, and relatable.
In terms of production, I think Don Peris did a great job of achieving a "folk" sound while maintaining brightness and definition. Notable is the excellent use of panning--listening to the album in stereo is a treat. The best part of the production though, I believe, is the mix. One might say that it's not hard to mix an album with such light instrumentation, but I think the exact opposite is true, for since every note is so delicate, it's that much more important that everything sits well. If you pick up this CD, maybe put on a nice pair of headphones and pay attention to the production.
Denison Witmer's "Are You a Dreamer?" is a very enjoyable album if you're in the mood for it. If not, it might seem a bit boring. I enjoyed it the most when I sat and just listened to the music, not while multi-tasking. If you're a fan of Elliott Smith or Sufjan Stevens, I definitely suggest picking this up. Denison Witmer has created an honest folk album without pretentiousness. It's just good, honest music, which is getting harder and harder to find these days.
This review is a user submitted review from Rohan Kohli. You can see all of Rohan Kohli's submitted reviews here.