Colorado's Leftover Salmon have spent the majority of their career basking in the herbal-infused glow of the jam band circuit. While their devoted fans may indeed celebrate the often-polarizing "hippie" aesthetic, the band has undergone enough significant changes in the last few years to warrant a mild reconsideration of the moniker. The Grateful Dead seal of approval has marred and helped the group, winning them packed houses and prime festival slots while causing some to write them off as purveyors of collegiate bong-passing and disposable noodling. This is both true and false, mostly the latter as shown by their self-titled, sixth full-length -- not including the hundreds of bootlegs -- record. Judging by their last two releases, the one-off collaboration with Cracker, O Cracker, Where Art Thou?, and the well-received, star-studded Nashville Sessions, their bluegrass leanings have only intensified. Produced by frequent collaborator and Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne, the band delivers 11 tracks of solid newgrass that occasionally cross over into folk and blues. Twenty-one-year-old newcomer and Béla Fleck protégé Noam Pikelny adds some serious heat to the mix, especially on the instrumental "Lincoln at Nevada." Like the early work of John McEuen and Martin Simpson, he's technically sharp as well as creative, and his enthusiasm carries much of the record, providing "one-man band," multi-talented Drew Emmitt with a little less to worry about. They sound more like Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder now than they do any of their grassroots contemporaries, and that bodes well for their future. While no new ground within the genre is broken, Leftover Salmon remain one of the more talented (and tolerable) acts associated with the jam band scene.
Leftover Salmon Review
by James Christopher Monger