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“Mountaintop Folk-Pop”

The 14ers

If our head boosters tire of John Denver or decide “Where the Columbines Grow” just can’t escape the grim connotations, they can find new state songs all over the 14ers jangly catalog. Lead 14er Ryan Kirkpatrick is even a great poster boy for the state, leading climbs up those namesake peaks, and backcountry adventures as far afield as Mount Kilamanjaro.

His loose references to drugs, moonshine and video games might scare off more buttoned-up state officials.

If nothing else, Steamboat Springs could use “Mountain Town” in its unofficial tourism videos.

“We hit the hill, it’s still coming down. It’s a good life in a mountain town,” Kirkpatrick sings. “Wake and bake, enjoy the ride, there’s a hot springs party on the other side. Taunt the night like a rodeo clown, it’s a damn good life in a mountain town. The winters bring us, and summers leave us all spellbound.”

John Fielder couldn’t create a better single image of Colorado in all seasons.

The song is peak 14ers, but the rest of the album holds up — and maintains the Colorado boosterism. “Reunited” is an homage to friendships and one of Colorado’s lesser-known national parks.

“We were building sandcastles in the Great Sand Dunes. It was an 80-degree Colorado afternoon,” Ryan sings.

And “Lean Forward Paddle Hard” is perhaps the best song about small watercraft since “I Love My Canoe” by Troubled Hubble. If you remember that wonderful Chicago power-pop band, you’ll get a familiar and comforting vibe from this album.

Ryan Kirkpatrick claims to do much of his songwriting and rehearsal at night during his backcountry adventures, and his lyrics reflect the loose, happy relaxation of a man who finished a solid and active day, as well as perhaps a joint and a can of Colorado craft.

The 14ers are definitely on a Rocky Mountain High, and they are willing to share.

— Steve Graham

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