Once the galaxy’s purveyor of “Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass,” the Colorado-based Leftover Salmon has evolved light years beyond its 1989 bluegrass-rooted inception to become one of the most spirited, jovial bands of the jam band nation. “Let in a Little Light” and “Winter’s Gone” are vibrant reminders of Leftover’s super pickin’ beginnings but this Steve Berlin–produced affair is more about the present and future than anything else. The group’s six versatile songwriters composed a wide breadth of material ranging from the euphoric “Places,” which sparkles with Erik Deutsch’s melodic piano lines, to the horn-struttin’ “Show Me Something Higher” to the hilarious Luddite anthem “Analog.” Vince Herman’s killer protest song “House of Cards” recounts today’s messy political state with a surrounding, surreal ambience as if to ask, is this strange trip really happening?
It must be; which possibly explains the cosmic “Astral Traveler” where you feel like you’re viewing a bewildered Earth from another planet. Its densely layered, spacey arrangement is best experienced at night after all other Earthlings have succumbed to their nocturnal hibernation.