In truth, this is an entire album and artist that I’m obsessed with, but we can begin with the song that started it all.
Actually, it began with an episode of a YouTube series Amoeba Music does called ‘What’s in My Bag,’ wherein various artists wander around Amoeba and share what they put in their shopping bag and why.
I’m super late to all the parties these days, so I’d never heard of Orville Peck before watching his episode (which is embedded below).
I was intrigued by his affectation of wearing a fringed mask. Then my curiosity became too much to resist when the video revealed he’s disarmingly sweet and charming, with explanations leaving his thoughts as unguarded as his face is hidden. [Side note: as I barreled down the Orville Peck rabbit hole, his Live at KEXP performance doubled down on the charm, vulnerability, and charisma. That is also embedded below.]
I immediately went to YouTube to find a music video, ‘Hope to Die’ was the first hit, and I was hooked. The song and video are a remarkable orgy of a country song, great songwriting, amazing visuals, various gay subcultures, silliness, theatricality, and a broadway musical.
Peck is a gay, Canadian, outlaw country singer who is never seen performing or in official photographs without one of his many fringed masks — which he makes himself, by the way. That alone makes him a likely artist for me to find fascinating.
But what fuels my obsession is his personality and the work itself. The best way I can describe his debut album is that it contains hints — some more than others — of Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison, the Phantom of the Opera (because of his classically trained voice even more than the mask), the Cure, dream pop, and some Grand Ole Opry costuming and theatricality. I definitely missed a bunch of ingredients, but that’s what I’ve got for you off the top of my head.
I’m as quickly and as deeply obsessed as I’ve been with any artist I can remember in quite a while.
‘Hope to Die’ has maintained its spot as my favorite song on the album, but the #2 spot changes every few days. Every song on the album is a gem for one reason or another.
I know he’s not going to be for everyone who reads this blog, but he’s damn sure for me! Also, I just learned that he’s on the OST for HBO’s Watchmen series, so, I’m even later to this party than I thought.
As promised, ‘What’s in My Bag’ and a ‘Live at KEXP.’ He has a more recent ‘Live at KEXP’ from a few weeks ago, but I’d recommend this one first. It includes some interesting insight into wear his voice under the Orville Peck moniker comes from.