Since December warrants looking back at the year, I have to say in trawling through my personal listening and buying habits of the year, no genre dominated my headspace more than that of ambient country. The space carved out for the sound has been fringe for the last couple of years, but in tandem with a recent rise in Cosmic Americana, the sister sounds of pedal steel and synth float have become more and more prevalent. Or maybe my compass just got permanently shifted, who knows? Still, in a year spent searching out serenity that doesn’t become background mush, the genre is as good as it gets and it’s lucky for us all that one of the genre’s greats, SUSS have yet another offering as 2020 clambers to a close.
The band’s High Line hit me hard last year, and Promise doesn’t disappoint as a similarly-minded follow up. The band builds sprawling sonic landscapes that set the contrast high but fill in subtle details in their twilight meditations with curls of synth smoke and the palpable creek of wildlife settling within the hushed valleys of their songs. Under the blinking high tension wire lights, the band finds a patient pace that’s colored in nicely with buzzing guitars and a pedal steel shimmer that supplants the instruments usual amber glow with a silvered hue of moonlight. The whole record feels like finally being able to exhale after a day of holding it tight in the chest. In a crop of country outliers that excel in shivers (see: Barry Walker Jr, Bobby Lee, Luke Schneider, John Jeffrey) SUSS prove that they’re still innovators of a sound that’s been their engine all along. Absolutely an essential 2020 release.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.