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REVIEW: “Cowboy Carter”

By Sophia Arredondo | April 8, 2024


Photo Credit / Illustration: Sophia Arredondo / The ASP


Beyoncé is back with the release of her long-awaited album “Cowboy Carter.” The second installment of her planned three-part album series was released on March 29, 2024. Her previous album, “Renaissance,” was heavily influenced by ballroom and dance culture. “Cowboy Carter” is more than a straightforward country album. It’s a style unlike any before, uniquely created by none other than Queen Bey. 


With a tracklist of 27 songs, Beyoncé creates a lengthy, yet influential album focusing on American folk music and the golden era of country while blending storytelling of her own life with the enriched history of country music. 

 

In the opening track, “AMERIICAN REQUIEM,” she hints at the criticism faced after her 2016 Country Music Awards performance as a motivating factor in creating the overall country sound in the album. 

 

“Used to say I spoke too country / And the rejection came, said I wasn’t country ‘nough.”

 

Sparking controversy among many, her performance was an unwelcome one from the country community. Yet, Beyonce shows us through “Cowboy Carter” that people shouldn’t be kept from doing what they love; taking criticism and building from negativity can create an empowering entity. 


Overall, the song, “AMERIICAN REQUIEM,” sets the premise of the album, leading what is to come with the following songs.

 

The second track on the album, “BLACKBIIRD,” is an encapsulating rendition of the Beatles’ original version. The song was first written by Paul McCartney during the Civil Rights Movement as an intended message of hope throughout the racial strife in America. 


Beyoncé’s cover features female black country artists Tanner Adell, Tiera Kennedy, Reyna Roberts and Brittney Spencer, who add rich harmonies and backing vocals. The song reinforces the relevant theme of keeping faith in times of injustice.


For many, a unique factor that was intertwined within the album were interludes featuring country music legends such as Dolly Parton, Linda Martell and Willy Nelson as they introduced the following song. While it did lengthen the album, it added nostalgia as they spoke from the perspective of hosts of TV shows to Texan radio stations. Having Dolly Parton introduce Beyoncé’s cover of “Jolene” was a brilliant touch, showing the strong connection as the country legacy embraces and in a way, welcomes the popstar to the countryside of music.

 

Touching upon themes of motherhood, “PROTECTOR” is an emotionally strong, lullaby style song. It’s fitting that Beyoncé’s six-year-old daughter, Rumi Carter, asks to hear the “lullaby” at the start of the song.

 

“I will be your protector / born to be a protector.”

 

As if singing to her kids, Beyoncé creates a nurturing, yet compelling message that can be shared and lived on through many mothers. She conveys the pride that mothers hold for their children through her rich crescendos in her vocals. 

 

Gaining most of its popularity from TikTok was the song “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.” The seventh track on the album creates a pop country feel through its catchy foot-stomping beat, banjo picking, whistling, and lyricism. The song contributes to the rise of country music in pop culture while exposing the style of music to broader audiences.


Lastly, “YA YA,” the 20th song on the album, samples Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking” and interpolates The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” Beyoncé cultivates an upbeat energy within the funk beat. The song ties back historically as it serves as a celebration of the Black artists, who in the segregated South, were given a platform to share their talents and perform at the venues of the Chitlin’ Circuit.


Throughout the album, Beyoncé creates a harmonic blend of vocals anchored with addictive, percussive beats. With each track different from the rest, there is something for everyone to enjoy. As a talented and ambitious popstar, she asserts her rightful place within the country genre, cultivating a powerful album that pays tribute to Black culture as well as homage to her own Southern roots.

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