For their eighth album - the first since the death of co-founder Mark Vann - the eclectic Colorado based "polyethnic Cajun slamgrass" outfit has enlisted former Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne as their producer. The result is an album that could best be described as the Grateful Dead meets the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - not a bad thing at all.
Consisting of fiddler/mandolinist Drew Emmitt, guitarist Vincent Herman, bassist Greg Garrison, pianist Bill McKay, drummer Jose Martinez and banjo-master Noam Pikelny, the group is at their rootsy best winging through such bluegrass ditties as "Down in the Hollow," the wistful "Mountain Top" and "Weary Traveler." However, Leftover Salmon's departure songs are what makes this disc most interesting. Social commentary is lightly touched upon in the folk tribute "Woody Guthrie," and a banjo-laden equivalent of Jimmy Buffett's sound is tapped into with "Everything is Round." The semi-classical interludes contained in the nostalgic bluegrass of "Whispering Water," would surely appeal to the Fresh Air crowd. Moreover, the Hammond organ-drenched "Just Keep Walkin'" (with Payne on vocals), is as convincing as modern day soul gets.
Traditionalists may balk, but those who like their music full of deft musical surprises will cherish this one. www.leftoversalmon.com.