It’s been a few months since Orville Peck released his debut album “Pony” with Sub Pop, so I’m sure all of you music-lovers reading this have already heard his gorgeous croons and fallen in love with his cowboy aesthetic—I know I certainly have.
As a gay man, Peck’s entry alone into country music opened up the genre to the often-alienated queer community. On top of that, his sound is a breath of fresh air for someone used to the type of country that you hear at Chili Fest in Snook, Texas. When I listen to this album, I’m reminded of what I loved about country music in the first place.
For a modern, young artist, Peck’s voice has a maturity to it reminiscent of an old-timey crooner. His smooth, deep vocals are entirely captivating and add to the gothic country sound of this album. It’s as though each song transports you to a different scene in a western movie. Listening to the eighth track, “Big Sky,” transports you to an end credits scene, taking your time riding a horse down an empty desert highway. There’s something very somber and solemn about the instrumentals in this song. Their simplicity highlights Peck’s vocal performance and the emotional rawness of his lyrics. Although this song may not be as popular as some on the first half of the album, it’s most definitely an album-defining track. With reflective lyrics about his former lovers and his inexplainable restlessness staying in relationships, he underscores the themes of heartache, nostalgia, and change that we see throughout “Pony.”
On a different note, his most popular song, “Dead of Night,” sets the overall experience of the album. It seems that each time I listen to this first track, I find myself hypnotized by the beat of the drums and floating at Peck’s higher vocal octave. His upper register honestly makes me wish we hear it more from him on the album, but I can’t really complain when his lower and mid-register are just as immaculate. These euphoric feelings in “Dead of Night” carry through from the rock guitar solo in “Buffalo Run” to the eerie organ in “Old River,” all the way to the very last track.
With every listen, I grow to love this album more and more. It absolutely warrants all of its praise and represents a welcome shift in country music.