Justin Osborne grew dissatisfied with the music industry while playing in a band in Charleston, South Carolina, so he relocated to Havana, Cuba, and studied anthropology. There, he formed a concept for a musical project he called Susto, named after a Latin American folk illness and roughly translates as "panic attack." He began playing music with Cuban musicians. Upon returning to Charleston, he met guitarist Johnny Delaware and they began collaborating on Osborne's songs in 2013. They recruited local musicians, recorded an album entitled Susto in 2014, and then formed a more permanent band around it. A second album, entitled And I'm Fine Today, is tentatively set for release later in 2016.
Headlining at the Mercury Lounge tonight, Susto played alt-country with lyric-driven melodies and down-to-earth integrity. With songs that capsulated many rites of passage of self-discovery, Osborne sang with youthfulness, not so much in its playfulness but more with an honest sense of fathomless wonder and self-empowerment. The band supplemented well, with dashes of Americana peppering the arrangements. While most of the set easily could find a home in country music, some of the more vibrant songs were more outright rockers. A subtle charm wove together a beautiful knit in Susto.
Visit Susto at www.sustoisreal.com.