Brand New Good Old Days is a prescient title for the new Leftover Salmon album recorded B.C. (before COVID).

As we emerge from the year-long shutdown, everything feels both old and new. That pretty much describes Leftover Salmon after a hard-to-believe 30 years as one of the early jamgrass bands on the festival scene.

Salmon’s new album, out now on Nashville-based Compass Records, is a mix of original compositions and covers. The initial tracks were laid down in Asheville, NC, in the fall of 2019, but post-production was done during the pandemic—“from the comfort of our bubbles” according to bassist Greg Garrison.

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Kicking things off with Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” sets just the right tone. “The haunting lyrics and very cool chord progression always intrigued me,” says lead singer and co-founding mandolinist Drew Emmit. “I also felt it was appropriate for this crazy time and would make a great bluegrass tune.” Emmit was right about that. Rich with strings and high harmonies, the song starts out up-tempo, then veers into some spacier sounds before returning to the band’s rootsy blend of bluegrass and rock.

The title track follows with a country feel and bittersweet lyrics, “It’s a reminder that no matter what kind of trouble we’re in these days, it may not ever be as good as it is right now,” says Salmon’s other co-founder, guitarist Vince Herman.

“We’ve all been dealing with the shutdown in different ways,” adds Garrison. “We’ve had two babies born into the Salmon family, and the slowdown has allowed [banjo player] Andy [Thorn] and me the time to truly be present and involved.”

Leftover Salmon’s roots run deep. The album’s other covers include Conway Twitty’s “Boogie Grass Band” and John Hartford’s “Category Stomp”. “Red Fox Run” takes a stand on gun violence and the NRA while the tender “Sunday” is the album’s prettiest tune. “We’ll Get By” is a suitably uplifting closer with plenty of banjo accompanied by mandolin and keyboards.

As enjoyable as the album is, music like this and a band like Leftover Salmon are best experienced live. The band has already performed CD release shows at Planet Bluegrass and Red Rocks Amphitheatre, with scattered dates scheduled throughout the summer and fall. It’s the festival scene, though, where Leftover Salmon has always thrived, with “Festival” the band’s rallying cry.

Upcoming dates include Telluride Bluegrass (June 17), FloydFest (July 21), Pickin’ in the Pines (September 17), Del Fest (September 23), and Hillberry (October 8).

“We’re thrilled to get back at it,” Greg says. “We miss the community and the collective energy of a live show.”

Leftover Salmon – Brand New Good Old Days