Denison Witmer Philadelphia Songs

Last spring I made my first trip to Philadelphia; unfortunately, it was only a seven-hour layover at the airport. This album makes me wish I would have made an effort to get out and actually see the place. Singer/songwriter Witmer's effort here isn't so much an ode to his hometown, but to the universal spirit of surviving in any big city. With a songwriting style and delivery lodged somewhere between Elliott Smith and Neil Finn, Witmer perfectly captures the detachment of modern urban living, although the album's brilliant photography (by Brady Sanders) more than sets the scene. The song cycle itself, aided by tasteful backing from the Six Parts Seven, alternates between describing a crumbling city and a crumbling relationship, with Witmer never giving up hope that both can be rebuilt. "24 Turned 25" is one of best points where these ideas converge: "At your apartment it gets late/ The bus is done but the taxi waits/ Should we go down to 2nd Street/ Or just stay here because that scene's beat." Intimate scenes such as this, whether lived out in present tense or recalled through memory, are really the album's greatest strength, as Witmer proves himself to be a fine all-around craftsman. This is a beautiful gem of an album that deserves to be discovered. (Burnt Toast)