The return of Adam Pressley (Prussia, Jamaican Queens) and Sam Swinson’s beloved project, Ohtis, is really good news. Formed and broken-up in Illinois while currently reunited and divided between LA and Detroit, Ohtis premiered the first track “Runnin'” off of their forthcoming album Bobo, Dad, and Holy Ghost.
“Runnin'” feels like something out of 2008. A story-driven, soft spoken Fleet Foxes-esque tale or a sad desert realization with dampened slide guitar wading in and out circa Wilco’s self-titled record. Ohtis brings us a track that feels like a hand floating out of the window of a silent car ride, the wind pushing back against a palm telling it what direction to go, the only conversation being the sound of air escaping between parted fingers.
The track opens with: “The expression you were wearing of emotional pain / Like anybody struggling to keep themselves sane,” that set the tone of Ohtis’ painterly Americana breed of misery. It’s a song about surrender, drunk driving through the plains and crossed fingers for a lovers return. The chorus drifts away from uncertainty and sways towards an invitation into a new past with the line: “We together will be better than me.”
With “Runnin’,” Ohtis has delivered an atypical strain of heartbreak that hones in on what’s to be gained, not what has been lost. The experience feels as it was seen through two sets of eyes, although only one voice remembers everything the eyes had seen. It isn’t until a female voice sneaks into the final reprise of the chorus that you feel that resolve is near and the next adventure even closer.
Ohtis plays a set in Ferndale this Saturday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. as part of Pig & Whiskey Festival.