Fifteen years into his musical career, Denison Witmer has recorded a self-titled album, his most direct statement to date.
In a world obsessed with “branding” and constructed media personas, he chose to call his ninth album Denison Witmer because “I started thinking about the implications of what it’s like to work in an industry where I operate under my own name,” Denison explains. “And my ultimate goal as a musician is to be honest with people, first and foremost.”
Inspiration for Denison Witmer came from an unlikely source. Listening to the radio, Denison found himself moved by an interview with R.A. Dickey, the major league pitcher whose so-so start convinced him to switch to the difficult knuckleball.
“The knuckleball is a kind of pitch that has absolutely no spin on it whatsoever,” Denison explains, “and you aim at a target, but you really have no idea where it’s going to go.” The learning curve first sent Dickey down to the minor leagues, then to the top of the majors, as he perfected his peculiar art.
Denison’s own peculiar art—like throwing the erratic knuckleball—also means going against the grain, and trusting in forces beyond his control. A composer of subtle, deeply sincere albums in the era of instant mp3s, he wrote this album partly about learning to accept the person, and the artist, he finds himself becoming.
“This is the turning point for me,” he says. “Even though it’s late in my career, I can feel something moving.”