Sub Pop (label)
25 March 2019 (released)
25 March 2019
The visual mask conceals what the verbal imagery reveals. For ‘queer cowboy’ Orville Peck mystery begets history as memories unwind, unfurl and take on lives of their own. This is a novel take on good ol’ country music, one that mixes traditional themes with a twist (hustling boy meets rustling boy who then runs away in the desert; rodeo Queens with a different sheen), a cavalcade of characters filter in and out, within and without these vignettes of loves lost and time spent in motels of show and tells.
This narrative storytelling is backed by what appears to these ears musically inspired by 80s UK ‘indie’ titans such as Lloyd Cole and the Commotions (‘Turn to hate’) and The Wild Swans (‘Winds of Change’).
‘Dead of Night’ channels Roy ‘The Big O’ Orbison’s plaintive and crystalline melancholy that meets Jesus and Mary Chain’s Wall of Soundscapes. A voyeuristic tale of peeping and espying, covert actions that triggers and reactivates submerged experiences.
‘Winds of change’ evokes Liverpool’s 1980’s doomantic Paul Simpson of The Wild Swans, stretched passions soar in a wrought fashion, the elements carrying the vagaries of affection as time elapses, Peck’s wailing croon articulating the riding of the wind and wherever that carries and lays us down.
There’s a Manichean battle afoot in ‘Turn to hate’, between complacency and urgency, agency and submission, wanting to fit in whilst fighting to sit out, the internal struggles of trying to do the right things by and for yourself to the point of forcing decisions upon yourself. A whirlwind of emotions for someone who’s ‘seen it all before’ that encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly.
‘Roses are falling’ is all surf guitar pining and wistful woozing, the finale nods to Santo and Johnny’s ‘Sleepwalk’. The blink and you’ll miss it apocalyptic ‘Old River’ channels The King himself, lush and gruff, this ol’ heart of rhinestone sermonising walls tumbling down.
The banjo-driven ‘Big Sky’ is a memory trawl of a past that’s passed, a litany of fallen by the wayside paramours: a boxer, biker, a paternally-minded jailor, all left in his wake with only the liberating horizons offering freedom and redemption.
There’s a new Sheriff in town, an out outlaw, a high plains grifter. He’s Waylaid Jennings and Johnny Cashed-his-chips, an alone ranger who believes in the power of love, but isn’t afraid to break hearts in two. Or five.