Why you should be listening to - Pony, by Orville Peck
Clad in a cowboy hat and a fringed leather face mask, on Pony, Orville Peck rides into town to disrupt country music. Instead of the sparkle and twang of the contemporary Nashville sound, Peck’s deep, brooding vocals evoke a world in world in which Elvis had lived to become a big Joy Division fan.
It takes some guts to channel The King, but Peck is clearly not the timid type. Old River, the brief interlude that comes halfway through the album, so clearly recalls Viva Las Vegas that you might think it exists only to get the comparison out in the open so that we can all move on. If the influences of the Roy Orbison school of ballads likewise permeates the album, it does so in a way that brings to mind David Lynch’s use of his music in Blue Velvet. Melodies become distanced and dreamlike, nowhere more so than at the end of Kansas (Remembers Me Now), where Peck’s vocal gradually distorts, at first as if an FM radio is losing its tuning, before collapsing into itself in a crushing bass explosion.
Mixed in with Orville Peck’s clearly affectionate homages to country and rock & roll ballads is a churning gothic undercurrent. Buffalo Run is a track that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from The Cult or The Fields of the Nephilim (a band who appreciated a good cowboy hat). It’s perhaps unsurprising that an album that opens and closes with songs called Dead of Night and Nothing Fades Like the Light is permeated by this sense of darkness and loss. If at one moment the album turns to memories of a departed love, (“another dreamless night/ you’re not by my side), in other it’s the passage of time itself that becomes the focus (“I’m still undone/ not quite young/ but I, I still try).
The album is available through Tidal as part of their higher-than-cd quality Masters audio, and in this format the production absolutely shines. Hope to Die, the album’s penultimate track, is a perfect example of this. Although focused on Peck’s dramatic vocal performance, as the song builds, the guitars and percussion expand in scope to envelop the listener. While not the flashiest of demo tracks, on a good system the nuances of Peck’s voice are bought to the fore, ripping the mournful masked cowboy from the prairies and placing him right in the center of the room.
Out now on Tidal Masters.
Written by Jake - Oxford Store.