The Nashville Sessions

Leftover Salmon

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The Nashville Sessions Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Those who don't pay attention to the jam band underground may be excused for wondering why such luminaries as Del and Ronnie McCoury, Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck, Sam Bush, Jo-El Sonnier, Jerry Douglas, Lucinda Williams, and Waylon Jennings appear on an album by Leftover Salmon, but those in the know will be aware of the Colorado act's burgeoning reputation. Throughout the '90s, the group quietly built up a following with a series of solid records and constant touring. By the end of the decade, they had become a popular cult band and were on a major label, which gave them the opportunity to record the star-studded Nashville Sessions. Every song on the album features a duet of some sort, and producer Randy Scruggs was able to secure the big names, which certainly gives the album character. Still, the set wouldn't be much more than glorified stunt casting if it didn't give Leftover Salmon an opportunity to flex their muscles, to illustrate how far they've come over the years. Not only are they working with strong material (something that hasn't always happened on their previous albums), but Scruggs keeps things clean and simple, putting the spotlight on the music itself. Throughout it all, Leftover Salmon successfully keep pace with their heavyweight guests and, in the process, they turn in the most charming album of their career to date.

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