This is a sonically gorgeous collection of folk pop. It's produced in the
style of California singer-songwriter records from the seventies, with
tasteful instrumentation and spare but always distinct melodies. Listening
to the songs inspires a certain peace within you, as if they're massaging your
ears. It makes you feel good in a genuine, therapeutic sense.
voice, which sounds a little like Jackson Browne's, is beautiful; I can't believe there's a
cancer patient who'd prefer pot to the sweet sounds his band makes. This is
my current soundtrack for when I'm in the kitchen washing lettuce, or when
I sit on my futon and look outside. It's what I enjoy hearing
when the news on television is too awful to turn the volume up, and I don't really want to
think about life. That can, as we all know, amount to a lot of time these
days. And so, as I thought about what to say about Of Joy and Sorrow,
it came down to these few words: the disc is worth buying. You'll play the
hell out of it.
This is not to say that Witmer is already a complete package. When a song induces
a certain amount of reflection, as with "Stations" and "Simple Life", it's
never the actual words inspiring it but the music of those words, the way
in which the banalities come from his voice. Right now, Witmer plays an everyman.
His songs paint in broad strokes, their feelings vaguely sketched or just plain
awkward ("I will be your ears your secrets can confide"). They induce
rhymes, but also a conscious desire to tune out that part of the song. I
don't know why he returns to puppetry images ("I never meant to pull
your strings so hard"; "Strings that I attach to things and drag around")
that do nothing to titillate the imagination, but he does; this is the
sort of lyrical conceit that Witmer would be well advised to abandon. Remember, though, that even
the incomplete package he currently offers will make you feel
very good inside. And this is only his second full-length...
Once more for effect: Of Joy and Sorrow is well worth buying. You'll play the hell out of it.