Covers can be a difficult thing to get right. Produce a rendition too faithful to the original and chances are it'll fail to make much of an impact; push it too far and you risk disconnecting the song from what made it something worth paying attention to in the first place.
But rising US alt-country star Orville Peck has a knack for crafting stories through his own perspective. His narratives draw you into his universe so completely that you often feel like you're experiencing this alternate reality right alongside him. This is absolutely the case on his 2019 debut album, Pony – it's also the case in his cover of Bronski Beat's 1984 queer anthem Smalltown Boy.
The synthpop of the original gives way to woozy alt-country with a Southern-fried twang. Our lonely boy from the original is transported from 1980s Britain to the American frontier. Like the original it's mournful, tender and yearns for a better reality which seems just out of grasp. If the story feels like it's Peck's to tell, that's because it is. It's a story that belongs to queer communities all over the globe.
Part of the Spotify Singles series, Smalltown Boy celebrates Pride month as it comes to a close and helps mark the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Check it out below.