OTwo Reviews: Bronco by Orville Peck

Image Credit: Emma Lambkin

Robyn Kelly dissects and breaks down Orville Peck's newest record, Bronco.

If this is the moment you are reading the name Orville Peck for the first time, allow me to have the pleasure of enlightening you. Orville Peck is a Canadian country singer who is redefining his genre. His first album was released in 2019 and his latest, Bronco, was released on April 8th. Although he has never revealed his face publicly, by covering it with a cowboy hat and fringed mask, no one can deny the similarities in his sound the singer shares with Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. Despite the comparisons made between himself and these classic rock and roll singers, Peck has reinvented a new sound and image for what is considered country in today’s world. This can be heard no clearer than in Bronco. 

Peck has reinvented a new sound and image for what is considered country in today’s world.

Before the release of Bronco on April 8th, I will admit, I was not a die-hard Orville Peck fan. However, with the release of singles and previews of the album, I have developed a deep love for his sound and found myself listening to the genre of country music with an open mind.

If you are listening in order, you will be introduced to the album by ‘Daytona Sand’ which kicks us off with a clear beat and an image of setting off on a new course. Followed then by ‘Curse of the Blackened Eye’, a beautiful slow ballad that soothes you. It is in songs like this the clear comparison to singers such as Elvis Presley can be heard with the iconic “uh-uh” between verses. The steady beat and quiet guitar give a sense of comfort despite the lyrics about feeling haunted. Later on, we are introduced to ‘Kalahari Down’, which has been noted by many of Peck’s fans to be one of his saddest songs, yet it opens with a very tranquil harmonica solo. Once Peck begins to sing, the lyrics tell a story of a lost love from long ago. After the mourning from the song before, Peck manages to lift us with ‘Hexie Mountains’. With a beautifully plucked guitar and lush melody, Peck speaks of moving on to a new stage of life while also longing for home. The held notes at the end of each verse also hold onto listeners as it has become a fan favourite. 

The steady beat and quiet guitar give a sense of comfort despite the lyrics of feeling haunted.

The rich melody of ‘Hexie Mountains’ is certainly reminiscent of what would be considered classic country. However, it is through songs such as ‘Iris Rose’ and ‘C’mon Baby Cry’ which solidifies a redefining of country with more liberty. Choruses here are more thickened to what we are used to. ‘Iris Rose’ especially once the melody is backed by horns, almost as if the song takes a deep breath. His new flavour of country is refreshing while also comforting. Unapologetic themes of homosexuality and loss are invigorating to hear, and if by this stage if I have not convinced you to listen to Bronco, I do not know what will.