Country music is back in a big way. The faceless Orville Peck helped bring it here.
The masked cowboy sings with his whole chest, and it’s easy to hear the love and power he puts behind it. The fact that Peck hails from Toronto, with his thick Western croon, is surprising. But what is even more surprising is how he maintains the big sound throughout all of his music.
His newest EP, Show Pony, expands on what he started with his first album, Pony.
Show Pony specifically has songs that draw on country music staples like trucking or being “rode hard and put up wet.” However, the somber piano and wavering guitar chords complete the sound and let it differ from conventional radio country. In “Drive Me Crazy,” the verses mainly feature a steady beat and Peck’s lone voice, while the chorus builds a wall of sound with piano riffs and perfectly produced guitar.
His bassy voice is unusual but perfect for the sound he achieves. Queer cowboys are a welcome trope, and Orville Peck makes folky music for people who long to see the vast plains and play guitar by the campfire. “Kids” puts the listener by a stream in the middle of Montana, with the stars shining over their canvas tents. The entire EP is a collection of folk and country-western tunes that a modern generation of country listeners can get behind.
Peck doesn’t pander. It’s not his game. Instead, he’s authentic as he can be for a Canadian cowboy. A shining light on the album is “Legends Never Die,” featuring Shania Twain, a legend herself. It isn’t poppy country, though, as could be expected from Twain. It’s bringing the best parts of both Peck and Twain’s music together, and their powerful voices flow together with ease.
As simple as it is, “No Glory in the West,” with Peck’s low, pained voice, takes the top spot on the album. With simple guitar strokes accompanied only by his voice, it’s hauntingly pure and clear. All he needs is a guitar and that low moan, and that song is proof.
Orville Peck’s face is a mystery. But what isn’t a mystery is why he’s getting so much attention. His somber yet sweet voice shines on every track, making Show Pony a perfect follow-up to what was a nearly perfect debut by North America’s most mysterious cowboy.
Shelby Campbell is a senior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Shelby know by tweeting her @bloodbuzzohioan.