Leftover Salmon – Leftover Salmon
High Country 0-15095-5704-2-0
More than four years have passed since fans have had the chance to trawl
for a proper studio album by Leftover Salmon. A death in the Salmon family
(founding member Mark Vann) and shifts in band personnel instigated a lengthy period to heal from the loss and break in the new band members before putting anything to tape.
The result is a self-titled album that displays many of the "polyethnic
cajun slamgrass" traits heard from Leftover's past. Prominent throughout is a
sense of longing — for home ("Weary Traveler"), for simpler times ("Mountain
Top") and even for a hero to save us from ourselves ("Woody Guthrie"). If it
wasn't for the inspired and upbeat performances, much of this could turn maudlin.
What raises Leftover Salmon above that is the stellar songwriting
contributions from Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman. Maybe I've neglected to notice it
in the past due to focusing on the hoedown-like atmosphere. On this album the
duo really stand out.
"Down in the Hollow" opens the album in their typical sounding manner.
Its effervescent melody and breezing pace evoke the wide-open spaces of the
Rocky Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, endless highways and grassy fields. Like
the band at its best, it creates a picturesque sensation with musical notes and
words. "Mountain Top" reinforces that feeling. Much of the rest of the album
offers a smooth ride between upbeat numbers and ballads with special mention
going to "Whispering Waters."
"Just Keep Walkin'" becomes the only blemish on this renewed band. The
song's earnest sentiments of being persistent in life aren't matched by an
equally compelling arrangement, causing it to sound like a mid-'80s Crosby Stills &
Nash number that tries in vain to rock in a funky way, and strains to
maintain its groove.
Aside from that, Leftover Salmon remains impressive and a solid step
towards the future.