Category: Exclusives

Denison Witmer covers Bob Marley, releases new album
with a special discount exclusively for Cover Lay Down readers!

April 19th, 2011 — 10:31 pm

We’re huge Denison Witmer fans here at Cover Lay Down, and the feeling is mutual: we were honored to be chosen as ongoing host for the five-track “bedroom folk” covers collection which Denison recorded to support the 2008 release of Carry The Weight, his last full-length studio album, and we were proud to feature an exclusive, first-peek stream of his sweet version of I’ll Keep It With Mine back in October, in support of Subterranean Homesick Blues, an incredible 2010 indie tribute to Dylan’s seminal Bringing It All Back Home.

Now once again, thanks to the artist himself, we’re proud to be offering our readers not one, but two unique opportunities to connect with Denison’s work. And it all begins with The Ones Who Wait, Denison Witmer’s newest studio album, which drops April 26th on Mono Vs. Stereo records.

At first listen, The Ones Who Wait comes off as incredibly rich, revealing sonic echoes of the best albums by Glen Phillips, Peter Bradley Adams, Michael Penn, past collaborator Rosie Thomas, and others, while simultaneously showing Denison’s influence by the likes of Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, Graham Nash, Big Star, and Jackson Browne. Not to suggest that Denison’s work is derivative, of course: after a dozen albums and EPs, his careful craftsmanship as a performer and songwriter has produced a canon which is unique and very special indeed, worth hearing and savoring.

But if you’ve never purchased a Denison Witmer album, now is the time, as this record represents a whole new level of success for the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter. The goal here, according to Denison himself, was to make an album “about reverence. mindfulness. patience. I want the songs to open up and change over time.” And having steeped in the album over the past 24 hours, I’m happy to announce that his care and effort translated exquisitely well into the songs themselves.

In short: The Ones Who Wait is a deceptively gentle, deeply layered journey that runs from summery alt-countrified tracks to pensive-yet-upbeat contemporary singer-songwriter fare, its echoey indie soundscapes and dreamy optimistic lyrics once again demonstrating why Denison Witmer remains at the top of our eternal recommendations list. Deeper and broader and more powerful in its way than his sparse solo work, it is an unqualified masterpiece, offering track after track of aching beauty and stunning, subtle instrumental support, revealing a maturing artist at the top of his game.

And because we’re such fans and champions of Denison Witmer here at Cover Lay Down, Denison is giving readers of this blog a special deal on The Ones Who Wait. To take advantage of this exclusive, one-of-a-kind offer, head over to Bandcamp, scroll down to the “”The Ones Who Wait” Preorder Package”, click “buy now”, enter the discount code “coverlaydown” in the checkout dialog, and you’ll receive 10% off the pre-order price – a deal which nets you an autographed copy of the CD shipped April 26, and an instant download of the exclusive 18 track “Live in Your Living Room Vol. 1″. (You can also use the code for a week after the album drops – the price will go up a bit, but the discount will remain. But trust me, the pre-release deal is a killer ap, indeed).

As a bonus, in support of the new album, Denison has given us an exclusive Bob Marley cover to release into the wild. The crisp and clear concert recording, taped in Fort Wayne, Indiana during the aforementioned Live In Your Living Room sessions, reveals a performance akin to those in our Denison Witmer Covers Project: sparse and delicate, raw and reverent, and truly transformative. And though it’s stripped of the potent production which makes The Ones Who Wait such a success, regular readers (and those who take advantage of the Bandcamp double-set above) know that Denison’s solo acoustic work carries a power all its own. I have it straight from the artist’s mouth that this recording is intended to be but the first of an eventual album of Bob Marley covers, a promise that, frankly, leaves me aching for more. But for now, Dayenu: this single cover is more than enough.

Previously on Cover Lay Down:

PS: Looking for even more Denison covers? The man himself tells me he just submitted a track for Seven Swans Reimagined, a strong indie tribute to Sufjan Stevens’ album Seven Swans featuring the likes of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Joshua James, DM Stith, and other Cover Lay Down indiefolk faves…which went live without a single version of Abraham. The tribute, a benefit for Komen for the Cure, is already out, but Denison’s contribution should go live in the next few days – and the track will be available free on the Bandcamp page once it emerges. Stay tuned…

725 comments » | Denison Witmer, Exclusives

Monday Exclusive: The Webb Sisters cover Tracy Chapman
and Leonard Cohen, and Judy Collins

April 18th, 2011 — 05:15 pm

A Cover Lay Down exclusive, today, thanks to some particularly savvy promo folks, who stoked my ego by naming me their No. 1 choice for an exclusive first peek at a new video from The Webb Sisters, in the hopes that it would lure me out of my recent hiatus. What can I say: I’m human, I’ve been itching to get to something more substantive and new since yesterday’s bird-themed coverfolk set marked our triumphant return to blogging, and I’m also on school vacation, looking out at a week of sand, surf, and solitude rather than the usual hectic homelife.

But the British-born sibling pair are absolutely worth coming out of hiding for, with a preference for lush, two-instrument arrangements that show strong influences from both the British and US folkpop traditions, and deep, beautiful, soaring, often heartbreaking brit harmonies, with the strong accents of their native Kent, that pull you in no matter the label you’re looking for. The combination of Hattie’s harp and mandolin and Charley’s guitar and piano is marvelous, at once ancient and modern. And their take on Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You, which I am proud to introduce to the world, is comfortable and intimate, played on a couch with just acoustic rhythm guitar and what appears to be some sort of mandolin or oud. Check it out:

The Webb Sisters have hit the radar before, too. Touted as rising stars of the next generation by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, and Princess Anne, hand-picked to lend their talents for studio recordings and tours for Cohen, Sting, Natalie Maines, and Natalie Merchant, their version of If It Be Your Will – recorded live on tour in 2008, introduced by Cohen himself, with whom the sisters Webb have toured regularly – is a tour de force of femmefolk simplicity, stunningly fragile, delicate, icy, and prayerful, with harp and soaring vox and – barely – a guitar, that gently fills fragments of sparse silences. And the fuller, more contemporary, almost countrypop production which supports their appearance on mixed-bag 2008 Collins tribute Born To The Breed makes for a stand-out track which salvages a song I once considered too treacly to be covered effectively.

The Webb Sisters’ next full-length album, Savages, will drop on May 9th; promisingly, it was produced with multiple Grammy-winning Beatles A&R man Peter Asher’s guiding hand at the helm. Direct Current has described it as both a continuation and expansion of their previous work “from the more traditional-based U.K. folk…into more Americanized rootsy pop,” with both drive and “a lighter than air delicacy” throughout. Sounds like we’re in for a thing of beauty, indeed. Check out today’s bonus tracks, and then learn more at the Webb Sisters’ website.

740 comments » | Exclusives, The Webb Sisters