LEFTOVER SALMON – “Something Higher” – May 4, 2018 on LoS Records

For any band to thrive on the road for nearly thirty years, there needs to be a constant source of renewal, a fresh spring of creativity at the center of the music that brings each member back for more. For Leftover Salmon, one of the great purveyors of Americana, this source came first from the American roots music traditions they came up with: bluegrass picking, Cajun two-stepping, the country blues. For all these years–over the course of their rise to become one of the biggest bands on the roots music circuit today, with legions of fans and routinely sold-out shows–Leftover Salmon have picked up many more influences. Much of this comes from the interactions between the founding members’ roots and the newer band members, who bring refreshingly different influences and ideas to the songwriting process. With their new album, Something Higher, due out May 4, 2018 on LoS Records, 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. There’s an unmistakable evolution to Leftover Salmon’s sound, and Something Higher has an edge to it that feels entirely new.

@LeftoverSalmon will be playing an intimate album release show at @BoweryElectric on 5.7.18.

 

Review from www.pitchfork.com .

The story of how Bad Debt was destroyed has eclipsed the story of how it was created. M.C. Taylor wrote these songs in the months following the birth of his son in 2009, then he recorded them in the dead of the North Carolina winter on a cassette recorder at his kitchen table, playing softly so as not to wake the household. Taylor was all set to release those recordings as Bad Debt, his first wide release as Hiss Golden Messenger, but the CD stock was destroyed during the London riots of 2010, when his distributor’s warehouse was burned. The opening chords of “No Lord Is Free” sound all the more resolute for cutting so gingerly through the ambient hiss of Taylor’s kitchen.

It’s almost impossible to imagine the magnitude of such a setback for any artist, but especially for one trying to launch a new venture. That story has attached itself like a tall tale to the album, at least for those intrigued listeners who have dug deeper into Taylor’s catalog following the subsequent release of Poor Moon in 2011 and the mighty Haw in 2013. Yet neither story affects how we hear these modest and deeply moving songs three years later, when Bad Debt is finally getting a proper release—with three new tracks—via the Tar Heel State indie Paradise of Bachelors. There are two reasons this tale of tribulation persists: First, it exposes the consequences of that fire and makes very real the sense of monetary and professional loss. Second—and much, much more crucial—that fire seems almost biblical in nature, as though God Himself reached down and smote Taylor. It is a tribulation worthy of Job.

“Are you with me now”? Taylor sing-whispers at the very start of the album. He delivers the line in a hush, even before the guitar enters, and that question resonates as both a gentle invitation to the listener and an invocation of a heavenly host. Bad Debt is an album deeply concerned with the nature of faith and man’s relationship with his Maker. That title pretty much sums up the spiritual dynamic, although who owes what to whom remains mysterious and unresolved. The homespun quality of these recordings is crucial: They are raw and rough, humble and private.

He makes good use of that room. Listening to these dozen songs, you can almost measure its dimensions. That space and the lo-fi recording technology create a rustic reverb, as his strums and singing reverberate quietly against the walls. To that simple palette—which recalls the Tallest Man on Earth at his most reserved or M. Ward at his most forceful—Taylor adds what sounds like a foot tapping against the floor to “Straw Man Red Sun River Gold” and “The Serpent Is Kind (Compared to Man)”. On “Call Him Daylight” his vocals echo slightly, suggesting a conflicted soul. These are subtle flourishes, yet they add urgency and depth to these songs and reinforce the sense of a live performance or a late-night rumination.

That field-recording aesthetic is the musical equivalent of sackcloth, especially compared to the lusher Appalachian folk-rock arrangements on his subsequent albums*.* Heard in the skewed chronology of the growing Hiss Golden Messenger catalog, Bad Debtmay strike some listeners as mere demos, yet there is nothing missing from these performances, no sense of potential left untapped. These songs sound full and finished even in their austerity. Even so, a deep sense of uncertainty pervades every syllable and every strum, as though no question can ever be answer satisfactorily, and it is precisely that spiritual disaffection that separates Taylor from the artists for whom God’s existence and benevolence are givens. Rather than cynical or despairing, however, Bad Debt sounds hopeful, exuding a sense of hushed celebration. These are, after all, songs sung by a new dad.