|Denison Witmer’s debut album, Safe Away, was recorded in the fall of 1997 with Don Peris (The Innocence Mission) who produced the album and played guitar on many of the album’s simple tracks. Many of these songs were written on an extended trip to Japan during 1996 and 1997 as reflections on many of his experiences and relationships both in Japan and at home. These are heartfelt, deeply emotional and sincere songs of love and broken hearts.
The songs of Safe Away are stripped down, but remain lush and powerful, akin to Mark Kozelek, Harvest-era Neil Young, or Nick Drake, but still unique in their own right. Safe Away is a simply recorded album capturing an airy intimacy and beauty. These recordings remain a favorite of Witmer’s growing fan base.
Witmer originally released Safe Away independently in the early winter of 1998. The album sold quickly through Denison’s touring efforts and went out-of-print. Witmerenlisted the help of his friend Scott French to record two additional songs to add to the album. The additional tracks were captured to 8-track cassette, showcasing the simple beauty of Witmer’s craft.
Denison and Burnt Toast Vinyl’s Scott Hatch met in the fall of 1997 when Hatch did the design for his original self-released edition of Safe Away. Witmer and Hatch became fast friends. Denison also became the building block for Burnt Toast Vinyl: the first artist to tour nationally, the driving force for growing promotion and publicity, and one of the best selling releases. Denison released three full-lengths (Safe Away, Of Joy and Sorrow, Philadelphia Songs), 2 eps (River Bends, The ‘80s), and a live record on Burnt Toast Vinyl. The btv version of Witmer’s Safe Away went out of print in cd near the end of 2004. Now, Burnt Toast Vinyl is now proud to issue Safe Away as a special edition 180g virgin vinyl LP. The sparse, yet beautiful recordings sound phenomenal in the deluxe vinyl format.
The Burnt Toast Vinyl/Denison Witmer connection remains strong. He’s toured on several occasions with bands on the label and members of Saxon Shore back him on live tracks on a double cd re-issue of Safe Away released through The Militia Group in late fall 2006, the label that released Denison‘s latest album, Are You a Dreamer?Denison has also recorded with Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens for Rosie’s latest full-length These Friends of Mine. The association with Stevens also provided a perfect opportunity for jokesters Witmer and Thomas to spoof venerable online music magazine Pitchfork into thinking the sessions also spawned a Thomas-Stevens love child.
Denison Witmer has shared the stage with many musicians such as My Morning Jacket, Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, Anathallo, Saxon Shore, Richard Buckner, Don Peris, The Innocence Mission, Damien Jurado, and Pedro the Lion. He has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe over his career and his Philadelphia Songs and Are You a Dreamer? were both released in Europe by Sweden’s Bad Taste Records.