Of Joy & Sorrow by Denison Witmer (Review)

Music this simple, yet powerfully affecting, does not get made very often.
Of Joy & Sorrow, Denison Witmer

If I could pick one of my many dreams to come true, I’d probably choose to be an active folk singer, traveling around to various places and making girls weep with the sad songs I’d play on my acoustic guitar. I wouldn’t have to be famous exactly; a steadily growing cult following would be fine, with the addition of my family and friends. This dream of mine is the reason I love Denison Witmer so much.

Here we have a guy actually living the dream, writing great music without using anything more than his voice and guitar. It seems so easy, and yet so hard. I sometimes wonder how Witmer got his start, eventually climbing up to where he is now. (No, he’s not a legend… yet… but he’s definitely got a loyal following.) Well, I suppose that’s what online interviews are for.

For now, the best way to appreciate this musician is to appreciate his music. And his recent album, Of Joy & Sorrow, is quite a nice batch of songs. Tunes like “Stations” and “Rock Run” help me remember how good music doesn’t need fancy gizmos and gadgets. In Witmer’s case, simplicity is next to beauty. Of course, he does allow some drums and electric guitar to take the stage every now and then, but Witmer’s at his best when he’s alone.

What makes Witmer’s songs so good is not merely his great guitar playing and vocals, but also his sincere, honest lyrics. Many of his words seem to perfectly capture those nostalgic times we always hope to relive. Songs like “Forgiven” and “You And Me” have real human emotion to them. At the moment, I can especially relate to the former, which is an issue I’m dealing with right now (not forgiving, but “being forgiven”).

I absolutely love the album’s closer, “Light My Way,” another song that hits close to home. “Listening to records in the Living Room/Strings that I attach to things and drag around/Photographs that I can’t bare my eyes to see/Books that I keep on the shelf but never read/I have finally found a lamp to light my way/I have finally found a way to speak my mind.”

Anyone who needs calm, relaxing, meaningful music in his or her life should check out Denison Witmer. Music this simple, yet powerfully affecting, does not get made very often.

Written by Jeremy E. Nyhuis.