Orville Peck
Pony


5.0
classic

Review

by Mathias STAFF
December 8th, 2019 | 194 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Country music for all, just the way it should be.

The reputation of country music has gone downhill for years and years. What began as a genre whose creation was greatly contributed to and inspired by Black Americans and immigrants from countless nations, a genre that was a derivative of blues, a genre that was supposed to tell the joys, pains, and everything in between of the human experience, had become a genre of commercialism, of autotuned choruses that tell the stories that certain parts of America want to hear, all while straying further and further from the path that it grew on. It became a much-maligned genre of corporatism and anything-but-honesty. Of course, this was only a certain branch of pop-country, but it was the brand of country that made the headlines, made the radio, and, fairly or unfairly, had ties to non-inclusive and repressive politics. What started as a genre for the common person became, for the most part, a genre for a certain type of common man. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with subjective taste and like for modern-pop country, it has become disheartening to see the almost immediate dismissal of country music.

A revolution has been occurring for years just below the mainstream to reclaim country music, to bring it back to its roots of fighting oppression, of the music of outlaws, of the music that every person can find themselves in. It has been an underground battle that occasionally breaks through into mainstream consciousness, and never has country music been closer to realizing it’s full potential than in 2019. What could country music be in the modern day? This is a question that is often asked. Orville Peck is the answer to that question.

Orville Peck has a gimmick, but he is in no way shape or form that gimmick. He hides his identity behind the mask that is prominent on the cover for Pony, a mask that flamboyantly recalls outlaw men of class Spaghetti Westerns. His outfits are often the same - highly sequined and patterned cowboy outfits of old. His image is that of a Masked-Queer-Cowboy-Country Artist, which makes sense, because Orville Peck is a Masked-Queer-Cowboy-Country Artist. His sound takes inspiration from famed composer Ennio Morricone, clearly drawing from country music of yore; not just meaning the seventies and eighties outlaw brand of Cash and Kristofferson, but one of whistling, duels, and cowpokes. This is a style that has often been defined as “masculine”, the kind of music that little boys were encouraged to hum along to as they were imagining themselves of the tough cowboy riding into save the day.

That sound is then combined with elements of shoegaze and post-punk, with slow-pacing and a dreamlike consistency draping itself over the album. The album could be described as immensely waltzable, with a temptation to mindlessly sway along finding its way to the listeners core. The lyrics are that of male lovers, drag queens, heartbreak, depression, suicide, and most other topics that would not be discussed in modern mainstream country music, nor would they be discussed in the masculine daydreams of those who want to be gunslinging-heroes. The lyrics are stories for those that had begun to be shunned by the genre, while still holding enough lessons for those of us that country music caters itself towards in terms of demographics. It is universal in its themes and sounds. While Orville Peck might hide his identity behind a mask, he bares his emotions and humanity for all to see.

Peck’s voice, without a doubt the star of the musical aspect of the album, adds to this dichotomy of a questioning what modern-day masculinity is. He boasts a powerful and booming baritone, reminiscent of Johnny Cash mixed with old-school crooners. The power and rage of his voice commands attention, but also exposes vulnerability. While sounding absolutely stunning, it also invites the listener in to the struggle that Peck and the character he creates are feeling. It is equal parts powerful narrator and person in need of help. Again, the fact that it is able to sound so theatrical and add gimmicks, such as the inclusion of a sad “Yeehaw” and snaps of a whip, all while sounding unbelievably human is a testament to Peck’s voice, creativity, and ability. While questions may be asked of how this sound can be expanded upon in future releases, it is rare to have such an unorthodox debut come together in such a perfect way.

Daniel Donato, an up-and-coming country star who opened for Peck on his most recent tour, said that 2019 was the year “country was music for everyone again”. While the genre, and especially cuts that make it to the radio, have a long way to go before it actually returns to its roots, it is heartening to see the embrace of non-traditional aspects that has been found in country music in recent years. Orville Peck breaks just about every bound of what someone imagines in a country album, but is undoubtedly a country artist. He successfully fights against the expectations that are set upon the country music system. Truly, there is nothing more country than that.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
December 8th 2019


1797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is essentially an essay, but I had so many things I wanted to say about this album. A classic in many ways.

SandwichBubble
December 9th 2019


13651 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"the fact that is able to sound so theatrical and add gimmicky"

is it supposed to be "gimmicks" here?



Also, I never checked this one out on release. Might try it out, sounds pretty cool.

Slex
December 9th 2019


15592 Comments


Google: How to give Contrib status to someone else

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


2349 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great job, i like reviews that don't mention song names. it's challenging but rewarding.



this album is amazing, i was hooked immediately when i heard his voice.



"kansas" isn't my favorite song here, but it does have one of my favorite moments of 2019. the way it sounds like it should be playing at low volume while you drink budweiser at a honky-tonk until the end when it devolves into static, then you look up from your beer and wonder what the fuck they're playing.

americanohno
December 9th 2019


2177 Comments


What began as a genre founded by Black Americans

wtf ??? scotch irish hillbillies founded country music

americanohno
December 9th 2019


2177 Comments


jesus Christ this review makes me wanna stab myself in the neck and I didn't even make it thru the first paragraph

skip this shit and listen to some real country music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxEmry5lRKk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DexpUI7evR4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKlLbAAQFeA

Slex
December 9th 2019


15592 Comments


Who even are you please leave

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


1797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Sandwich That whole sentence is a mess lol, thanks for pointing it out! Should be fixed up now!

@Chan I love that too. The whole thing sounds like it should be background noise in some sort of David Lynch film.

@aermicaohno I guess what I meant was that without taking a lot of inspiration from genres founded by Black Americans, like blues and even jazz, country as we know it would be pretty different. Which to be fair, isn't what I said in the review, so maybe I should clean that up. You're totally right about the Irish hillbilly aspect, but again, that's pretty far from what a lot of people consider "country music" today (even though there's a lot to country music that a lot of people discredit)



mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


2349 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"if the south would have one" lol



pretty good bit

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


1797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Actually looking at the songs you shared (even if I find issues with the first two) we're kind of making the same point, just different spectrum: What people think country music is isn't the only thing that country music is.

It's also kind of funny because this album clearly took influence directly from Porter Wagoner, so don't quite get that point

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


29651 Comments


Probably gonna get to this today. I'm terrified.

americanohno
December 9th 2019


2177 Comments


black music had a ton of influence (as did Mexican and Swedish) on country music but this weren't jimmie Rodgers first song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BFbY9Vw8DM

and jimmie weren't the first to play and sing like this just the first to be recorded (although jimmie prolly innovated yoddling in American music lol)

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


1797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Dewinged I am incredibly curious on your thoughts haha

@americanohno Yeah edited the review to language that I think is a little more correct and also gives more credit where it's due.

Loving that Jimmie Rodgers song. I'll be honest, the only thing I know about him is a reference in a Colter Wall song. It's definitely sending me down an old country and blues Youtube rabbit hole.

Interestingly, the first performer to be introduced in the Grand Ole Oprey was an African American Harmonica player. This article says more what I meant to convey, plus is just really interesting (from 1998, so just watch for some of the cultural references): https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1998-09-16-9809190003-story.html



WatchItExplode
December 9th 2019


10232 Comments


On my short list of things to jam before years end. And somebody just make this guy contrib already. He basically embodies what this site is supposed to be.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


29651 Comments


dmathias and Notrap are on top of my vote for contribs next year if they apply.

WatchItExplode
December 9th 2019


10232 Comments


Agreed. They both rep stuff I dig too so bonus.

Slex
December 9th 2019


15592 Comments


[3]

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2019


1797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well dang, thanks for the kind words y'all!

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
December 10th 2019


29651 Comments


This is good, his voice is a mix between a young Nick Cave and Chris Isaak, plus I like the Lynch feel of the music (that tremoloooo) and how he blends country? into post punk.

kevbogz
December 10th 2019


5899 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dead of Night, Roses Are Falling, Hope to Die, and Nothing Fades Like the Light are the best tracks here, rest are decent.



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