Leftover Salmon: Something Higher
With their 30th anniversary coming up next year—give or take a hiatus and tragedy along the way—it’s high time to acknowledge that Leftover Salmon is one of the best homegrown acts America has to offer. It’s not just that they draw from so many homegrown sources—lots of bands do that these days—it’s how they mingle those disparate elements into something uniquely theirs, how they turn out music with staying power. With Steve Berlin of Los Lobos—another band that knows the joys of patching incongruent pieces together into a signature sound— returning as producer, Something Higher succeeds so well because Leftover Salmon, in both words and music, always has something to say. “Places,” the album-opening anthem, isn’t just another mere “we’ve been on the road so long” travelogue, but a celebration of exploration and the inevitable welcome return home. “Foreign Fields,” too, turns wistful: “Lost but I shall find my way, rise into the morning hay, may the spirits carry me through another day,” they sing to an ebullient banjo-topped melody. But “House of Cards” is another vibe altogether, pointing sharp fingers at today’s dire state of affairs, while co-founder Vince Herman bathes in the harangue of the outfit’s eerily jabbing, angular reverbed guitars and ominous percussion. Leftover Salmon is a band in constant flux but one that also remembers its own roots. A tune as funky as the semi-title track, “Show Me Something Higher,” probably never would have occurred to the original band, yet it doesn’t seem that far removed from those days either.