Orville Peck Is Reviving Outlaw Country
When Lana Del Rey dropped "Video Games" in 2011, she did more than just release a song. Del Rey revived a musical pocket for a whole new generation of listeners to appreciate. In her case, it was a mixture of Americana and vintage Hollywood era music.
Eight years later, Orville Peck is doing the same, only this time it's not the resurgence of the beautifully tragic sounds of Old Hollywood. Through a mystic blend of outlaw country and an undeniable splash of shoegaze, the openly gay artist is reviving the spirit of '50s and '60s classic country for the modern-day ear.
While Peck's music is most swiftly identifiable as country, it goes well beyond the boundaries of the contemporary country archetype. His vocals embrace a Johnny Cash caliber of candor and resonate with a mystique reminiscent of Elvis Presley.
The influence of alternative pop and rock in his melodies and production not only compliments but heightens the outlaw country atmosphere. Some songs, like "Take You Back," have the honky-tonk groove while others, like his most popular song, "Dead of Night," relay a more Americana, pop sensibility. Peck also has songs, like "Roses Are Falling" and "Kansas (Remember Me Now)," which evoke the charm of Presley at his most lovestruck.
Peck's music is not the only thing that will catch your attention. His signature look is a fringed lone-ranger mask that covers all but his blue eyes, hiding his face, yet making him immediately recognizable.
The listener's infatuation with Del Rey's Old Hollywood era music or Peck's '50s and '60s country feel is reflective of our nostalgia for music's past. The pattern here continues almost chronologically. This nostalgia is also analogous to physicals, especially with the return of vinyl in recent years. It will be interesting to see how our nostalgia continues to manifests in the years to come.
Despite its nostalgic origins, Peck's sound is refreshing in an era of country pop, reminding us of the original spirit of the genre. It is no wonder he has acquired a strong and consistent listenership since the release of his debut album Pony in 2019 and continues to receive critical acclaim at each and every turn.
Listen to Pony below: