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SUSTO’s latest album reflects on life, death, and “Time in the Sun”

SUSTO’s latest album reflects on life, death, and “Time in the Sun”
November 2021

(From left to right) SUSTO band members Jordan Hicks, Dries Vandenberg, Justin Osborne, Dylan Dawkins, Jordan Reynolds, and Marshall Hudson

It’s not often that the father of a two-year-old needs to find a way to fill his time, especially the frontman of a band who has written several songs with millions of streams on Spotify. But Justin Osborne functions best under pressure, so the early pandemic’s prospect of months at home led him to return to the College of Charleston to finish his degree.

Back in 2014, during his final exam week, Band of Horses offered his band, SUSTO, the chance to join them on tour. Seven years later, after logging hundreds of thousands of miles and gigging close to 200 dates a year, he took the opportunity to take a breather, enjoy time with his wife and daughter, and pursue another passion: reducing the carbon footprint of his touring lifestyle. With the ultimate idea of creating a shared electric vehicle program to rethink the touring paradigm, Osborne enrolled in the college’s master’s program in environmental and sustainability studies.

That meant juggling his studies and scientific expeditions to Francis Marion National Forest measuring the health of the tidal creeks and pine forests with working in studio sessions downtown with producer Wolfgang Zimmerman. Together, they laid down more than 20 tracks that were honed into the 11-song album, Time in the Sun, released October 29 by New West Records.

“I am not comfortable unless my plate is completely full,” Osborne admits. Further education aside, the 16-month process of Time in the Sun’s creation led to new sonic layers and lyrical insight. Opener “Time, Love & Fun” is dedicated to Osborne’s father, who passed away from cancer last year, an experience that closed the life-and-death loop on an album initially envisioned as a reflection on the birth of Osborne’s daughter. A polished video for “Get Down” shows off the benefits of the group’s fresh deal with New West. Osborne felt the band’s previous agreement with a traditional Americana label wasn't the perfect fit for their sound. “There’s a rock and psychedelic side of SUSTO that’s a big part of it,” Osborne explains. That’s heard on the laid-back “Summertime,” an easy-listening head-bobber with playful organ trills and a bass drum emulating a skipping CD that completes a nostalgic scene.

Watch the music video below for SUSTO's single "Get Down," off the band's latest album.

“Double Rainbow” may be the collection’s most classic SUSTO track, for its three-chord, hold-back-before-exploding melodic structure and familiar theme exploring Christianity’s role in society and reckoning with Osborne’s evangelical upbringing. “I’m a psychedelic priest on my best days/And I’m a real world beast on the rest days,” Osborne sings.

Every song on Time in the Sun is audibly accessible—even beautiful—yet thought-provoking and often evident of a conflicted history. That’s not unlike the city that produced SUSTO and a new album that will make the band’s local fans even prouder to claim their shared heritage.