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Denver and the Mile High Orchestra
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GOOD TO GO (2004)
Good To Go - Click to view! My thoughts upon hearing that Denver & The Mile High Orchestra had released their follow-up to 2002's Stand can be summed up in a single word: "Finally!" While the wait has felt longer than it actually has been, I can't help but think how refreshing it is to hear their considerable talents on display once again. After all, one can only take so much of the same-sound synthesized music that drives the Christian pop scene.

I am happy to report that Good To Go really is "good to go," with much of the familiar to appeal to the growing fan base of this unique group. The signature retro sound of the boys is represented in the swank jazz of "All Right," with its alto sax and trombone solos, in the sideshow barker returning for "Larger Than Life," and in the short but beautiful symphony of the prelude to "Miracle to Me." They even try their hands at a little swing blues number called "Can't Get Enough," which is probably the most enjoyable track on the disc. Any song with a harmonica solo has to get some props.

But take this CD for a spin and you'll see that Denver is conducting a train on a different track as well. For example, immediately following "Can't Get Enough" is the more contemporary ballad, "Glory Forever," which is largely formulaic as an example of contemporary worship music. "Live Your Love" sounds like something from the adult contemporary station on your radio dial. And, rather than departing from fast music to perform a slow standard, DMHO takes "Blessed Assurance," and gives it an upbeat makeover, rendering it both cool and initially unrecognizable. I can't say that everything new that the band tries is a success, but I enjoy following the "branching out" that artists do as their music evolves. Therefore, even the musical missteps are enjoyable to this fan.

The writing on this project is very much up to the high standard established on previous albums. Denver wrote every song except "Blessed Assurance," and each lyric seems to address some aspect of living for and in a loving God. The infectious joy expressed in the title track is wonderful as he speaks of learning that the real joy in life is not found in satisfying ourselves:
"I coasted here and toasted there / Always on the run / Living large without a care / Looking out for number one / I talked a big game / But I never got it done / Then Jesus came into my world / And rocked it upside down! / He gives purpose to my life / With His sweet love I've found / His kingdom is comin', His will be done / And it's time to go to town!"
Denver also asks the questions that have plagued man from the beginning, in "Only Jesus (My Legacy)": "What will they say / When my life is over? / Will it fade into the past? / What will remain / When my life is over? / Is there something that will last? / What will I leave behind to stand the test of time? / I leave the One who's worthy of my whole life." The poignancy of that message, to say that all we can hope to be remembered by is how we have shown God's love in our lives, is quite powerful.

Once again, Denver and his band mates have demonstrated that it is possible to produce something both meaningful and different. Wonderful arrangements, solid vocals and contagious enthusiasm make this album something special. Musical slump? No thanks, we're Good To Go.
- Scott Bush
December 2004
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