Skip to main content

Rising Canadian country music maverick Orville Peck, a masked interloper onto the scene.

Wunmi Onibudo/Handout

There is no anonymity like conspicuous anonymity, and the latest masked man to gain our attention is Orville Peck, a curious country music maverick to say the least. He cloaks his eyes Lone Ranger-like and covers the rest of his face in long, leather tassels. On his debut album Pony, the Canadian mystery man croons high and low about old rivers, big skies and a queen of the rodeo. The style is haunting, cinematic, with no skimp on the reverb and tremolo – Yee-Haw New Romantic, to coin a genre. Imagine Roy Orbison having a David Lynch dream or an operatic peyote meltdown.

Because Peck has described his Pony project as his most personal ever – we’re still waiting for a musician to release an album and say it’s their “least personal yet" – one might wonder why he disguises himself. But we shouldn’t confuse disguise with deceit. “I believe in my mask, the man I made up is me,” Sam Shepard wrote, in his musical play The Tooth of Crime. “I believe in my dance and my destiny.”

The four best Canadian albums in the world right now

Traffic chaos can’t dampen crowd’s enthusiasm as Rolling Stones rock out

Yesterday, all of Danny Boyle’s troubles seemed so far away - now it looks as though they’re here to stay, but oh we believe in Yesterday

Pony was released earlier this year on Sub Pop label in the United States and on Toronto’s Royal Mountain Records in Canada. A pair of sold-out shows in August at the legendary Troubadour club in Los Angeles attest to the interest in an artist who bends country music boundaries and whose lyrics challenge cliché cowboy masculinity.

Story continues below advertisement

Pony’s lead track is Dead of Night, about a pair of gay hustlers in the Nevada desert. “See the boys as they walk on by, it’s enough to make a young man … ” On the gently plucked Big Sky, Orville reminisces about past lovers that include a biker and an abusive prizefighter: “Fell in love with a boxer, stayed awake all year / Heartbreak is a warm sensation, when the only feeling that you know is fear.”

On the uptempo whistle and twang of Take You Back (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call), Peck is the disillusioned rambler. There’s something nomadic, lonesome and heartbreaking to the record as a whole. As for the costume, it is theatre. Peck isn’t hiding beyond a persona, he’s putting himself out there more naked than most. Who is that masked man? Just listen to him. He’s not hiding a thing.

Orville Peck plays the Calgary Stampede, July 5; Hillside Festival, Guelph, Ont., July 14; River and Sky, Sudbury, Ont., July 18; Crystal Lake, West Grey, Ont., July 27; Capital Ballroom, Victoria, Aug. 26; Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Aug. 27.

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies