Ghostly folk group Susto are here to break hearts

Leave your body behind

Ghostly folk group Susto are here to break hearts
Photo by Paul Chelmis
SUSTO, with David Oliver Willis, Bill Silver, 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, Backbooth, 37 W. Pine St., 407-999-2570,, $8

Charleston's leftfield folk quintet Susto are bravely stepping in to the live music wasteland that immediately follows the holidays, and it's not just that dedication to road life that makes this show worth your time and money. Susto are the current embodiment of "hotly tipped": The band has been featured on Daytrotter and NPR, toured with Iron and Wine and Band of Horses, and are poised to hit the road with (ahem) the Lumineers after cutting their teeth on this nearly monthlong headlining jaunt taking in Orlando.

With Susto, Justin Osborne, the main songwriter and frontman, finds stability after a life of bumpy changes – rejecting a religious upbringing, attending the Citadel military academy for a brief spell, giving up music and moving to Cuba in his early 20s, along with the usual dislocation and dissipation that a life in music brings.

After some early lineup changes, the members of Susto now protect one another within a forcefield of music. Susto's sound is that curious mix of lullabye sweet and darkness-on-the-edge-of-town sour, like a piece of caramel wrapped in barbed wire. Big choruses and soaring harmonies are tempered by just enough compositional eccentricity. The overall effect is something between the aforementioned Iron and Wine and a frazzled cosmic country sweet spot.

Susto have a new album, & I'm Fine Today, out Jan. 13 on Missing Piece/Caroline. It's a collection of songs that you're going to be hearing quite a bit over the next few months, and it's a sure bet you could get a sweat-soaked preview of this embryonic music on Saturday in Backbooth's close confines. Osborne played Orlando solo this summer, opening for BJ Barham. This time around, he's brought backup.

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