Album cover of ‘COWBOY CARTER’ by Beyoncé. Courtesy of Apple Music.

Beyoncé’s triumphs on her eighth album, an all-encompassing ode to country and American music.

Beyoncé prefaced the release of her new album with a statement explaining that the album was born partly from the backlash she received from her appearance at the 2016 Country Music Awards: “I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn’t.” COWBOY CARTER, her eighth studio album, is all about Beyoncé staking her claim within the country music realm. The record is an exciting ride through classic American music styles, with researched production and homages to the great artists of the genre.

Although country music defined the lead singles of the album, COWBOY CARTER is rather an all-encompassing tribute to historically popular styles of American music. Beyoncé notably pays tribute to several iconic artists in American music history, primarily from the country genre she is borrowing from. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Linda Martell all appear in spoken or sung bits that serve as skits between songs. “BLACKBIIRD” and “JOLENE” are covers of classic tracks by The Beatles and Dolly Parton, respectively.

The record has a predominantly country, singer-songwriter and acoustic direction that also dabbles in folk, rock, hip-hop and dance music. “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” has a gospel feel and traces of sitar, while “16 CARRIAGES” is filled with hits of rock guitars. “SPAGHETTI” is a hard-hitting hip-hop banger, as is “TYRANT.” Different types of acoustic and country styles are also explored: the album’s midsection consists of slower-paced, acoustic ballads that focus on emotion,introspection and highlighting the singing.

Beyoncé is vocally intact, delivering several stunning performances. She reaches beautiful highs on the introductory track and soars into Italian opera on the backend of “DAUGHTER,” delivering stunning results. She is joined by Miley Cyrus on “II MOST WANTED,” a duet where the voices are perfectly complementary as they harmonize over acoustic guitars. The intro track is one of many examples where Beyoncé utilizes her full vocal range, tapping into deeper vocals as well.

Beyoncé’s songwriting is one of the album’s strong suits. “16 CARRIAGES” is a story of sacrifice about Beyoncé following her family at a young age to embark upon a musical career. “PROTECTOR” is all about motherhood—providing for your children yet knowing they will be on their own one day. Her rendition of “JOLENE” even puts a fresh spin on the original, opting for a more assertive and defensive track—Jolene is warned to stay aback. 

Throughout the tracklist, there are all sorts of captivating lyrics about Beyoncé embracing Black culture, family, love, sexuality and overcoming adversity and infidelity (“JUST FOR FUN,” “DAUGHTER”).

“YA YA” is a standout, both vocally and instrumentally, combining uptempo guitar licks with horns, drums and roaring vocals. The track is grand and exciting and evokes Tina Turner. “BODYGUARD” is another key track, a laid-back, poppier cut backed by warm acoustic guitars and addictive “oohs.” 

The album’s final leg kicks into a series of dance cuts, calling back to Beyoncé’s previous album. “RIIVERDANCE” combines country instrumentation with a consistent kick bounce. It transitions directly into “II HANDS II HEAVEN,” a song that is equally pulsating but starry and mellow. “TYRANT” is an upbeat hip-hop banger backed by a killer violin melody, and “SWEET ★ HONEY ★ BUCKIIN’” is another bouncy bop reminiscent of RENAISSANCE track “THIQUE.”

There are several shorter interludes in between tracks that make for nice moments, though their brevity renders them less necessary. Contrarily, the “SMOKE HOUR” radio show-themed skits and vocal interludes add to the Western aesthetic of the album and aid its flow. 

All in all, COWBOY CARTER is Beyoncé’s latest passion project and a testament to the effort she puts into her work. From her performances to the production, the record speaks to her will to dive into a new style and research it down to every last detail.


Trial Track: YA YA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts