Review Summary: Legends never die.
Orville Peck sounds like nobody else in the country music scene right now. He’s fused the genre with post-punk and dreamy soundscapes while building it all around that uniquely booming voice of his – which is capable of carrying just about any song to dramatic and soulful heights. His 2019 debut LP Pony
made it clear that Orville Peck is not aiming to become the (masked) face of country music, but rather change it from beneath its vastly rigid and mainstream surface. Show Pony
is his follow-up EP, and it proves that he’s not merely content with planting his flag and walking away.
grants listeners even more variety as Orville Peck opens up the curtains to his infinitely promising future just a little bit wider. Tracks like ‘Summertime’ are a career achievement – this sad and longing ode to a pleasant (but evasive) person, place, memory, or feeling which is symbolized by summer. The song glows with a poignant warmth atop a glistening melody, and it feels like all of Orville Peck’s strongest qualities rolled up into one gorgeous ballad. Another highlight is Shania Twain’s guest role on the track ‘Legends Never Die’, in which the two singers trade verses and occasionally join together in perfect harmony. Orville Peck illustrates his versatility with a gruffer and almost angrier side on the closer ‘Fancy’, in which he shakes loose from all the mid-tempo pleasantries to make a few points to his critics. Elsewhere, it’s the little things: the way that ‘No Glory in the West’ symbolizes his charting of new territory as an openly gay, Canadian cowboy in a scene that has traditionally shunned people like him (and as the music video of him trekking alone through the snow just to reach an empty home suggests, he worries his own journey might be in vain). It’s the steady piano progression in ‘Drive Me, Crazy’ that makes the arrival of electric guitars feel regal and magnificent; and it’s the way every single acoustic pluck on ‘Kids’ rings out with pristine, pastoral clarity. This may only be an EP, but it illustrates Orville Peck’s ability to refine his greatest strengths while simultaneously expanding his reach. Somehow, he’s still getting better.
There’s a lot to unwrap lyrically and thematically on Show Pony
. It offers a layer of depth that simply doesn’t exist in certain pockets of country music, and brings all of this to the table while stretching the genre’s sonic boundaries. Orville Peck has slowly emerged as less and less of an enigma, and Show Pony
’s unique brilliance will undoubtedly serve as an additional catalyst to his rise. He’s here to stay, and country fans everywhere should be glad. With Orville Peck’s Pony
and Show Pony
, we’re witnessing the birth of a legend.