SUSTO (Charleston, SC) is the latest project from former Sequoyah Prep School (SPS) lead singer Justin Osborne. After a decade of touring and recording together, SPS went their separate ways in February of 2013. With no outlet for his writing, Osborne left for Havana, Cuba in search of inspiration. After several months of playing and recording with Cuban musicians, Osborne returned to Charleston, SC where he teamed up with friend and songwriter Johnny Delaware to refine the songs written in Cuba. With help from friend and producer Wolfgang Zimmerman (Brave Baby), Osborne and Delaware were able to record what songs Osborne had from Cuba as well as several new songs written in Charleston.
The end result is the 11-track, self-titled album. Produced, Engineered, and Mixed by Wolfgang Zimmerman, “SUSTO” was Mastered by Nick Petersen. The album performers, over and above Justin Osborne(Vocals, Guitar, Piano), include Johnny Delaware, Taylor McCleskey, Wolfgang Zimmerman, Harrison Boyd, Eric Mixon and Jordan Hicks among others. While the current band members also include Jordan Igoe, Matt Lohan, Corey Campbell and Gordon Keiter.
“SUSTO” is full of beautiful, subtle, deep songs. Osborne’s voice is incredible, vulnerable yet powerful. It has the spark of genius, but with wisdom that allows room for the good things in life. This is a great album in a way that sneaks up on you. You’ll listen and like it – you’ll come back and like it more, and more, and more. There are slow songs and up-tempo songs to break the flow, all perfectly working in combination with each other because the melodies and lyrics are so strong, and the excellent production is never intrusive.
Simple, sincere and real, the material on “SUSTO” is intimately sweeping and emotionally charged – you’ll come back and appreciate it for a long time to come. This is a tightly produced album, thanks to Wolfgang Zimmerman, that contains some truly fleshed out tunes.
The album opens with “Black River Gospel”, and immediately you can hear the benefit of having such a great band and assortment of studio players, who’s playing flows effortlessly along with Justin Osborne’s fiery vocals. They quickly follows this up with what many will consider one of the best songs of the album – “Acid Boys”. This song will surely remind some of early John ‘Cougar’ Mellencamp.
The album continues with the tranquil and melodic tunes “Black Jesus” ,“Country Line” and “Dream Girl”, which are as heartfelt and honest as anything I’ve heard. “Cigarettes, Whiskey & Wine” is possibly the most intense track on the album teeming of anguish and yearning. This is perfectly followed by the uplifting and hopeful “Friends, Lovers, Ex-Lovers…Whatever”. The album continues with a string of beautiful tunes, most notably “La Mia” and “Smoking Outside” that showcase just how strong the album is as a whole.
The big advantage with “Susto”, as an album, is that there is no excess baggage that needs to be trimmed down. This is 11 songs that feel like they all belong together. Every song adds tremendously to the listening experience and was obviously treated with as much passion as possible in the studio. Enjoy this beautiful record which is one of the best, if not the best, of its genre, I have yet heard this entire year so far!