Denison Witmer: The Ones Who Wait

Written by June 7th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Dennison Witmer
The Ones Who Wait
(Mono vs. Stereo)
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Summertime and the living is…listless? Lackadaisical? No, that’s not right. But after listening to The Ones Who Wait, it’s easy to get confused.

See, at times, Dension Witmer’s latest album is calm to the point where you are begging for some ripples on the pond. The slowdown numbers are everywhere you turn—“Life Before Aesthetics” rides the same basic guitar throughout; “Two and A Glass Rose” could be a country shuffle written fifty years ago, until you hear the opening couplet: “I remember you in a thrift store dress/Rainfall on the taxi roof/On the morning we arrived in Amsterdam.”

Sadly, despite the song’s locale, it doesn’t get more psychedelic from there. That’s not to say either of those songs is inherently bad, or that sometimes calm can’t work. The standout track on the album, “Your Friend,” is an ethereal ballad where Witmer’s quiet style is nicely paired with slide guitar, layered acoustic riffs and unique love song lyrics: “Now the fruits of our love fall/Out of the trees/And down, across the ground.”

But when most of your songs gently dip their toes in the water, sometimes you need a big splash. Maybe that’s The Ones Who Wait’s saving grace. Witmer occasionally counters a song like “Brooklyn With Your Highest Wall” and its lounge-singer accompaniment with one like “Hold On,” the album opener that has a backbeat and more importantly, some forward momentum to help Witmer deliver his words with a little more punch than usual. “I know how you’ve been worried sick for me,” he sings on the latter.

And at times, one should worry a little while listening to this album, especially if one is currently operating heavy machinery or driving a car. Just don’t worry too much. Witmer always manages to save the day from sleep-induced disaster, blaring out something like “Influence,” a banjo throwdown that’s fun and bubbly and just right for this time of year, making you feel a bit foolish for being so drowsy moments before. “Love me like the way you used to,” Witmer sings, and on songs like this, it’s easy to. Now next time can we have a few more?

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