Image by Charlotte French

Gay cowboy Orville Peck shatters country music norms and hearts

I discovered Orville Peck recently from my friend who shared his song “Dead of Night” with myself and two other friends. She shared it as a text, myself and another friend promising to save it and listen to it later. But by the next day, my roommate was playing Peck’s music while making breakfast. He became a common commute artist for me. Between the four of us, we have very distinct music tastes, but Peck has captured us all. He currently has one complete album, “Pony,” released in 2019. This gay Canadian songwriter has revitalized the genre of country music, causing Mike Pence to quake in his loafers. 

It is difficult to describe the kind of music that Peck produces. I would best describe it as country bedroom rock, or “Cowboi” music (the “boi” being, clearly, a derivative of the “sadboi” music genre). It resembles the music that might have existed in this world if Clint Eastwood had feelings and sensitivity instead of guns and smolders. When the lone anti-hero so popular in our current zeitgeist (Han Solo, Wolverine, you know the type) is overcome with emotion the singular time in his life, this is the artist he plays. 

If country music normally turns you off and you think it is only songs with banjos about guns and trucks, I implore you to give Peck a chance. He has a song for everyone. His music knows no boundaries, crossing genre and situation alike. His low, soulful voice will soothe at least five of your troubles.

“Hope to Die” evokes David Bowie-esque ballad notes, mixing nostalgia for a time that is gone with heartsickness and love. Dare I say it, but when he sings the line, “But I still try,” he invokes Whitney Houston and her great, timeless, “I will always love you.” 

I would be content if the soulful self-affirmation of “Kansas (Remembers Me Now)” played me out as I exited the tiring stage we call life, and I have never even stepped in Kansas (nor do I plan to). To me, it is a song that says, “I have achieved greatness, and you have no power to undermine that.”

“Dead of Night” remains my favorite song of Peck’s. It is a simple song that leads you effortlessly to its climax, wrapped in easy lyrics that capture the comforting feeling of wasting time with someone you love. There is a surprise banjo solo at the end that seems neither out of place or unwelcome. Really, a masterpiece. 

I also know, deep in my heart, that Peck’s aesthetic deserves a place of honor in LC’s reverence of style. It seems to me that any fashion choices that are bold are applauded. Peck is certainly bold. I have never thought, “what if a dominatrix became a cowboy but kept the leather?” and now I do not need to. That is to say, Peck wears a leather mask that ends in about a foot of fringe that he couples with a cowboy hat and his piercing stare. It is the aesthetic I did not know I was missing in my life. 

With 12 songs on his album, “Pony,”  there are at least 12 reasons to give him a chance. I guarantee you that a hole exists in your music library that only Peck can satisfy. Listen to him and revel.

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