ALBUM REVIEW: Denison Witmer – ‘American Foursquare’: soothing Philadelphia folk

IN THESE months (days, actually), while we stared, mouth wide open, at ravaging events, American Foursquare provided a reminder that a gentle, more human America does exist. If you are not familiar with his work, Denison Witmer has been a protégé of the scene gravitating around Sufjan Stevens and his label, Asthmatic Kitty – including Don Peris from cult band The Innocence Mission – since debut.

Home-recorded in the house Denison grew up in in Lancaster, PA, the album vibrates with warmth and kindness, following the almost imperceptible chamber-folk arrangements and Witmer’s ‘conical’, colloquial voice.
The songwriting here echoes Sufjan’s simplicity (“Robin”), something’s that becoming rarer and rarer. If you are familiar with Mark Kozelek’s recent downward spiral, you will be comforted by a song like “Roseanne” – emotional depth without self-centred ramblings.

American Foursquare will probably sound too homely and down-to-earth, too explicit, for many followers of the contemporary folk scene, and undeniably there is an element of that preventing a repeated and/or periodic listen. On the other hand, this is an album that is becoming harder to find and, if you’re looking for soothing music, speaking from a more ‘normal’ America, this album definitely deserves a spin.

The album, available digitally since a few months ago, will be out physically from Asthmatic Kitty from January 8th next year, including a new EP of alternate mixes.

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