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. Witmer enlisted
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
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.