Susto Dip Into Heavy Universal Themes on ‘Time in the Sun’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

South Carolina’s Susto dip into some pretty heavy universal themes on their latest, Time in the Sun, covering songs about death, birth and friendship.

The album, a strong follow up to 2019’s Ever Since I Lost My Mind, was recorded as singer Justin Osborne was adapting to becoming a new father (mentioned early on in the fantastic “Be Gone From Me”), but midway through recording the album, his father died from cancer and it’s not hard to find those powerful, conflicting emotions throughout this 11-song collection.

“Because I had begun writing when I found out I was going to be a dad, these events were the biggest inspirations for the record,” said Osbourne. “It felt like I was in between the beginning and end of life. Up until my own father passed away, I felt like it was an album about new life and becoming a parent. His passing shifted the narrative towards the cyclical nature of life, death, and new births.”  

And though there have been songs about life and death going back to the beginning of recorded music, Osbourne handles these topics with an emotional eloquence that is both relatable and inspiring. In “God Of Death,” he tackles the subject head on with the opening lyric “I don’t want to think about my father dyin’, I don’t want to think about my mother cryin’, I don’t wanna look into the mirror tryin’ not to lose my shit,” delivered over a hypnotic acoustic guitar and swirling keyboards. He manages to tackle an experience everyone has faced or eventually will with impressive honesty and frankness. But the song actually ends up on a true optimistic tone, admitting that the world is a fucked up place but “I had a blast”.  

Produced and engineered by Wolfgang Zimmerman (Band of Horses), the record marks a turning point for the band lyrically. Although they’ve flirted with indie rock and Americana over the past few albums, Time in the Sun hues closer to the former. The record ends on the echoey, striking piano ballad “All Around The World,” admitting to tears cried but ending on a hopeful “They say a new day is comin’;” the perfect end to a complicated, emotionally tough but ultimately satisfying album.

Photo by Sully Sullivan

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