Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

Instinct is a spur in the line of a complex behavior. It’s something that comes a priori, or is born through cultivation. Sophistication. Time. Experience. Confidence works along the same rail: It’s something one learns through failure as much as success.

If it began because of anything, it was for fun. In the beginning, Navy was four musicians rallying together because of proximity and because of trust. Their histories were known. Their aptitude was evident. Anybody even mildly familiar with Denver’s music scene would know their names: Dan Craig, Nate Meese (Meese/The Centennial), Joe Richmond and Tyler Rima (Churchill).

At first, it was a release valve. In the beginning it was buoyant and easy, and that’s all it was ever going to be. This project was a sanctuary. It was for those times in-between, when the four of them were all in town, off tour, at the same time. At first, they’d practiced as many times as they’d played-out.

At first, they were only Dan Craig’s songs. The prolific songwriter has been a staple in Denver’s music landscape for almost a decade. And he’d had his projects before. He’d had his big band with Nathan and Stephen (later renamed Hearts of Palm). And he had his band before – the full orchestra that backed his solitary catalog of songs. But he wanted this kind of brotherhood: Something loud. Something big. Fun. The best parts of playing music.

And so, they did.

I love what this band stands for. Sails toward. I love the mess hall story: It started as fun. Four respected players. Now it’s something else. Because it happened to be good. Maybe really good.

Like the millions of desolate acres of royal ocean, their sound is majestic. Beneath that shimmery water, there is a driving pulse. It feels like an impetus. A call to arms. A charge. In this Navy, there is angular movement. Because, beneath the electric blue, there is also darkness within discovery.

Because everything is about a girl even if it’s not.

The way it’s all shaping-up in this project, it may have been accidental. But nothing else points at happenstance. Even the lyrics say something about who the four of them are and where they’ve come from. The way that Craig’s lyrics feel, it’s as though he treats his music like he treats his girl, or vice versa. In these songs, they’re almost interchangeable. In “Dangerous Love”, Craig sings, “I’m not afraid of mistakes like I once was/I want all I can take/of your dangerous love/I’m just trying to make something to be proud of”. In “Snake Oil”, the shuddering shouting match based off Nate Meese’s repeated trill, Craig sings haunted. “Blame New York City/She said my name/She said my name/Blame California/Most nights it all sounds the same”.

However tragic or trodden, it’s how you treat a girl, even if you weren’t aware.

And that’s what faces the quartet now: what they do with this one-night stand turned lover. Is she wife material or is the armada already aimed out from port, into the empty unknown?

I suppose that, like them, we’ll all have to wait on the pier, our hands rigidly up like a salute, shielding the sun. To see.