Ambient country pioneers, SUSS, chart their growth and healing after the loss of founding member Gary Leib with a double LP collection of all of the EPs the group recorded over the last few years.
The album begins with tracks from October 2021’s somber and glacial Night Suite EP, which was completed shortly before Leib’s sudden passing. It then carries on with songs from the band’s Heat Haze EP from June of this year, which is the band’s first release as a trio. These recordings are full of optimism and enthusiasm with faster rhythms and a brighter, more animated sound. You can feel SUSS trying to put their best foot forward to do Leib proud and to show the full strength of the remaining team.
Then the album progresses on to songs from the recent Winter Was Hard EP, which only saw release earlier this month. These tracks are more stoic than the ones found on Heat Haze, but they are thick with frosty atmospheres and frigid droning keyboards, pedal steel and gusty guitar. You can picture just about any of the rare snow-filled western flicks (such as Jeremiah Johnson, for instance) syncing up well with these songs.
The record closes with the brand new Across The Horizon, which is a bittersweet climax of dusty guitar meditations and cinematic soundscapes made up of things like ghostly piano, mirage-like waves of pedal steel and even the occasional mandolin. There’s a feeling of reflection and acceptance in these songs. Tracks like the concluding “The Open Door” use sympathetic tones and evocative melodic fragments to tell you that much like the rest of the world, the band went through major grief and hardships since the start of the pandemic, but are still here and going strong. They salute their fallen comrade, but they decide to keep on living and make the best with the time they have left. Let their story be a lesson to all of us.
You can order SUSS from Northern Spy Records ahead of its Friday drop date right here.