Charleston, South Carolina-based rockers Susto have a name that loosely translates to “ongoing spiritual panic attack” in Spanish, but two new tracks premiering on Rolling Stone Country show founder and frontman Justin Osborne to be supremely chill — in a worldly, self-questioning sort of way.
Both “If I Was” and “Está Bien” appear on the band’s third album, Ever Since I Lost My Mind (their first with Rounder Records, due February 22nd), and both were produced by Ian Fitchuck — who recently shared an Album of the Year honor at the CMA Awards for Kacey Musgraves’ brilliant Golden Hour. Both are also serenely laid back, with gentle instrumentation and thoughtful vocals inviting the listener to step out of their daily grind and into more intentional headspace, but that’s where the similarity ends.
With the dreamy stoner’s delight “If I Was,” Osborne takes a hazy trip into existential thought, doing so with an ultra-relaxed brand poetic nonchalance that channels Dawes’
“I wrote this song one morning at my house, after my morning ritual which is to smoke weed and pick up the guitar,” Osborne explains. “The lyrics really came out naturally and I think it’s a personal expression of someone trying to explain themselves to the world, the audience or anyone who might listen. Probably the best way to describe the song is as a declaration of awareness; awareness of who I am, who I’m not and who people may want me to be.”
Meanwhile, “Está Bien” looks outward. Presented as a classic Latin ballad and sung entirely in Spanish, the track comes off like a sunset ode to cross-cultural friendship, with a steady-strummed acoustic guitar and warm, light touches of piano joining Osborne’s sometimes raspy vocal. In the period before the band got established, Osborne studied abroad in Cuba.
“There’s so much focus on the USA’s relationship to Latin America now in the news, and I hope this song can be taken as a manifestation of love and friendship between people,” he says. “When you’re ok, I’m ok.”