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Photo: Julia Johnson
Photo: Julia Johnson

Orville Peck Reclaims His Crown As King Of The Alt-Rodeo

The masked crooner charts a new course in country music with BRONCO.

by B. Simm

“Daytona Sand,” the opening track on BRONCO, comes roaring out of the gate like a herd of wild stallions. Strong, beautiful, and surging with free-flowing untamed energy. It lets listeners know that they’re in for a fantastic ride as soon as they put their feet in the stirrups. Orville Peck has been celebrated as a subversive force in country music since the release of his 2019 debut, Pony, as he blends elements of traditional country and alt-rock with his immediately recognizable baritone voice. On BRONCO, the horsepower has been upgraded as his profile grows.

Over the course of the album, Peck roams through tracks reminiscent of Lee Hazlewood’s LA-inspired 1960s romance while glowing bright in Chris Isaak’s shimmering sequin. Peck can wail away over an astonishing range of octaves, from a gritty ballroom growl to an angelic soprano soaring over mountain tops. And just when you think he’s hit one peak, he takes off and finds another even higher.

Even more magical is the playing on BRONCO, which charts a defiant new course in country music. The guitars can be fast, fiery, or snarling with ferocious twang, yet Peck’s sweeping wall of sound moves the music out of the cliches of being either stripped down or overproduced and elevates it into its own fabulous dimension – big, bold, glittering country filled with rainbow showers.

But make no mistake, this is bonafide country music. BRONCO is rich with gorgeous wide-open desert landscapes, rip-roaring barn burners, and last-call whiskey-drenched ballads. And holy cow, Peck’s voice; both infectious and fabulous, it’s undoubtedly the masked country star’s crowning glory.