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Every memory I have of my father growing up remains anchored to his seemingly-attached cowboy boots. From dawn until dusk, in any situation, those boots were as much a part of my old man as his vital organs. Whether we were on a beach in Mexico or riding horses in Wyoming, he was never without them. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood how intrinsically linked those boots and his taste in music were. Our home subsisted on a heavy, wholesome diet of country staples. Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson were honorary members of the family, providing a soundtrack for the road trips and weddings, holidays and funerals and every day in between.
Listening to Denver’s “The Way It Is,” I know how my father must have felt each morning as he pulled on those boots. There is a comfort that resides in the twang of slide guitar and the gentle melancholy of honest lyrics like “There’s things in the world that I know nothing about, and that’s just the way it is.” It’s an ode to the gracious simplicity of music of days past and head-nod acknowledgement that sometimes comfort is the only satisfaction we can find in today’s world. Denver inhabits a nostalgia that is neither forced nor gimmicky. Rather, like a certain pair of boots, it just fits glove.
Denver comprises members of Blitzen Trapper and Alela Diane & Wild Divine, which has led them to be likened to The Highwaymen (and with good reason). Unlike other “super group” projects today, Denver refrains from self-serious indulgences, cultivating a humble aesthetic that seeps into the song through lyrics like “it’s a meeting of friends, it don’t matter when, it’s so good to see you, it’s always good to see you”. Delivered with such forthright honesty, it is almost as if they are singing directly to you, the listener, adding further to the worn-boot, whiskey-drinking, living room appeal of the tune.
With a single that conjures such emotions with such effortlessness, I can only imagine what kind of shaken-Polaroid goodness is tucked into the folds of their forthcoming self-titled debut album due out on Mama Bird Recording Co. on August 14th. As for Denver being the namesake of a Portland-based band, I’m going to let it slide as this single could easily be an audio postcard from our beloved city.