Denver, the Mile High City, is more euphoric than ever these days, due not only to its physical elevation and presumably the fact that the air is thinner up there, but also because the legalization of certain substances naturally allows for a “higher” state of mind. While Rowdy Love does have its moments (the title being but one indication) it’s mostly a somewhat subdued affair, comprised of downcast ballads like the telling “Lonely, Lonesome & Alone,” “Carry On” and the entirely forlorn “The Shame.”
While this is surprising, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Denver’s approximation of a classic Southern California country rock sound, circa the ’70s, brings to mind the latter-day Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Dan Fogelberg, New Riders of the Purple Sage and even inklings of Workingman’s Dead – lending a feeling of déjà-vu to the proceedings. Still, it is a relief to find a hint of honky-tonk at times, allowing songs like “A Way Out” and “Bound to Lose” provide some much needed respite. Likewise, the soft saunter of “Split Ditch” finds Denver balancing the mood between reflection and elation in a way that’s clearly resourceful.
Ultimately, Rowdy Love isn’t nearly the raucous rave-up its name would have us believe, but it is an engaging diversion regardless. Like the city that lends them their name, Denver provides plenty of reasons to make a sojourn worthwhile.
– Lee Zimmerman