Leftover Salmon digs up its roots with new album ‘Something Higher’

By Lisa Snedeker

Fans of Leftover Salmon are used to being surprised by this slamgrass Colorado-based band and its 2018 release “Something Higher” on LoS Records does not disappoint. In fact, the surprises come long before the May 4 release in the form of a chance at a number of unique prizes for anyone who pre-orders the album featuring 12 original songs.

Pre-orders start on Friday, Feb. 2, at leftover-salmon.myshopify.com and every order is entered to win everything from a pair of “Something Higher” Meier Skis, a “Something Higher” Winterstick Snowboard, a “Something Higher” Osprey DayLite Packs, a “Something Higher” engraved EcoVessel bottles, or a pair of “Season Passes” allowing fans access to all Salmon shows in 2018 (no festivals, other restrictions may apply), according to the website.

Here’s a great teaser for the new album: https://youtu.be/YrDQeiekXf4

Nearly 30 years ago, Leftover Salmon started its journey as one of the original purveyors of Americana — combining bluegrass picking, Cajun two-stepping, rock, jazz, the country blues — that would eventually lead to its becoming one of the biggest bands on the roots music circuit.

In addition to legions of fans and sold-out shows, Leftover Salmon has picked up many more influences over the years thanks to the evolution and interactions between the founding members’ roots and the newer band members, who bring refreshingly different influences and ideas to the songwriting process. I had the chance to write about the band when it headlined at the fifth Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival.

“Leftover Salmon taps into everything from horn-blasting R&B to reverb-drenched desert noir, from the cosmic roots music sound they helped create to neo-New Orleans-meets-Appalachia liquefaction,” according to a press release. “There’s an unmistakable evolution to Leftover Salmon’s sound, and Something Higher has an edge to it that feels entirely new.

​”To create ‘Something Higher,’ Leftover Salmon returned to long-time producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) with a new mission: to record at the famed Wavelab Studio in Tucson, Arizona, and to go all analog. The warmth of analog, coupled with Berlin’s uncommonly attuned ear for the dynamics of larger bands, brought a more focused sound to the group and challenged them as well.

“He’s always looking for that thing in a song or a groove that he hasn’t heard before,” says bassist Greg Garrison about Berlin, “which is tricky because he’s heard a lot of stuff already! He pushes the band to do something different, to surprise him.”

“Over 10 days in Tucson, Leftover Salmon laid out the new music, each songwriter bringing a songwriting kernel and letting the rest of the band work out new improvisations to craft the final song.

“The key to Leftover Salmon’s music, now more than ever, is the way they marry technical precision with easy groove. It’s a trick that old jazz players used to pull, a dance between virtuosity and the illusion of ease. In crafting the new music, founding members Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt provide a foundational focus and guiding spirit, while banjo player North Carolina’s Andy Thorn keeps the band close to their original roots in backstage picking parties. The rhythm section–bassist Garrison, keyboardist Erik Deutsch, and drummer Alwyn Robinson– was a key focus point for Berlin, who drew out members’ backgrounds in jazz and hip-hop to zero in on the heart of Leftover Salmon: the groove.”