With the title of their new album, Something Higher (due out May 4 on LoS Records), Colorado jamgrass sextet Leftover Salmon isn’t being coy. There’s no hidden meaning here: On 4/20, the band announced the launch of a line of cannabis products. Something Higher isn’t merely suggestive; Leftover Salmon is clearly acknowledging their own advocacy of marijuana and their following in the stoner community.
Producer Steve Berlin’s (Los Lobos) decision to go all analog – obliquely referenced on the fourth track – gives a classic feel to a cutting-edge mélange of rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, soul, zydeco, jazz, and blues. The many musical styles on Something Higher never feel forced or inauthentic, which may have a lot to do with Leftover Salmon’s racially and geographically diverse lineup, with band members from not just their base in Colorado, but North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas, and possibly Illinois A voice on the album had me convinced that someone in the band had to be from the Louisiana bayou, but I was shocked to learn that band’s Cajun/zydeco influences come by way of founder and Morgantown, West Virginia native Vince Herman!
The content on Something Higher ranges as widely as its musical stylings. The lead-off track, “Places,” is a pure Americana travelogue. “Evermore” takes the listener on a similar, blue-grass styled journey, affirming the band’s love for Colorado, infused with soaring keyboards. “House of Cards” calls out to the band’s left-leaning fan base, spelling out the evils of war, commercialism, and corruption, while affirming belief in the conquering power of love. I’d never considered the existence of psychedelic Americana before, but the term best describes the music and lyrics of “Astral Traveler.” The title of the instrumental “Game of Thorns” reflects the band’s playful nature, punning on the name smash-hit TV show.
With its incredible breath of musical style and content, there’s something for nearly everyone on Something Higher. Recorded entirely in analog, this is an album that deserves to be listened to on vinyl. On May 4, experience Something Higher the way Leftover Salmon intended.