How to describe Orville Peck? If Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison had a gay love child, someone who really likes R.E.M., but he’s afraid to tell anyone because they might make fun of him. Sprinkle in some Dolly Parton level of camp and summon the ghost of Ritchie Valens to strum doo-wop chords in a way that will make you regret having fallen in love; Stir to combine, and you’ll be left with a Canadian named Orville Peck, and although we haven’t seen his face, we finally have someone to bring justice to country music in the 21st Century.
I first heard of Orville Peck after being sent a link via text message. Plastered on my screen was the image of a blue-eyed man cased in a background of red satin, sporting a cowboy hat, and (here’s where it gets weird) a black Lone Ranger style mask covering half of his face with a foot of black fringe raining down. Peck boldly states ‘here I am,’ and the world is left scrambling to keep up.
Orville Peck is a country music phenomenon, but he isn’t today’s country superstar. Peck is a phenom because at first glance, he doesn’t appear to belong among the tight-jeaned ranch-hand and desert-queen aesthetic country music is known for. But against all odds, he makes it work.
“I’ve always believed that I had a place in country music,” Peck said in a 2020 interview with Billboard Magazine. “I was a 13-year-old gay kid listening to country, and it never crossed my mind that this wasn’t for me,” he says. “I don’t think it’s about who you are. Country music is about storytelling.”
Peck released his first studio album, Pony, in 2019 on the famous Sub-Pop record label that released Nirvana’s first album, Bleach, in 1989. Back then, Nirvana was a shot in the dark no one saw coming, and Sub-Pop has continued to take risks and elevate stars for 30 years.
Pony doesn’t sound like the pop-country of the past 20 years, and but this also isn’t country gone commercial. Peck is a crooner. His songs range from a wistful love of the open range to adventurous late-night car rides, even a ballad about several love affairs he’s had with other men while on the road. Peck’s second studio LP will be released on April 8, 2022, so be sure to check it out!
Orville Peck is coming to Boston Calling on Saturday, May 28, 2022, so mark your calendars and purchase your tickets while you can!