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Beyoncé shakes the music world with new album “COWBOY CARTER”

Official cover art for Beyoncé’s new album, “COWBOY CARTER.” The album was released on March 29. PUBLIC DOMAIN

“This ain’t Texas,” Beyoncé sings in the opening line of “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.” But you don’t have to be from or in Texas to enjoy this enchanting, unique Beyoncé album. “COWBOY CARTER” revitalizes the traditional country music genre. 

Originally, Beyoncé planned to release “COWBOY CARTER” in 2022, but instead released “RENAISSANCE” as the first installment of her three-act project. Coming out of the anguishing COVID-19 pandemic, Beyoncé believed that the world “deserved to dance.” The 27-track “COWBOY CARTER” serves as “Act II.”

“COWBOY CARTER” is taking the world by storm for its captivating and eccentric songs. For example, the rendition of country star Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” describes Beyoncé’s mother’s life, contrary to the popular belief that it’s about Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z. There is also a reference to Louisiana, which is where Beyoncé’s mother is from. Beyoncé’s “JOLENE” stands out with its distinctive lyrics and subtle yet powerful rhythm changes, with music icon Stevie Wonder playing the harmonica. Even Parton herself appears on the prelude “DOLLY P” and is later featured on “TYRANT.” 

Parton is not the only collaborator on this album. Fellow country music star Willie Nelson is also featured on “SMOKE HOUR ★ WILLIE NELSON” and “SMOKE HOUR II.” The song “PROTECTOR” even features Beyoncé’s daughter Rumi. 

Beyoncé received criticism from many proclaimed “country enthusiasts” about staying in her lane. However, the goal of the album is bringing country music back to its African-American roots, seeing that the genre originated in the 17th century when it was brought to the American continent by Europeans and Africans

She also paid homage to The Beatles’ “Blackbird” in her rendition “BLACKBIIRD” — adding an extra “I” to many of the song titles featuring the letter as a subtle yet symbolic touch to signify the album’s place as “Act II.” The original “Blackbird” was written to uplift the Civil Rights Movement, and Beyoncé took the song a step further by featuring several other Black performers on the track: Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Reyna Roberts and Tiera Kennedy. On Instagram, The Beatles’ Paul McCartney praised Beyoncé’s twist on the classic tune.

Other well-known artists featured on the album are Miley Cyrus on “II MOST WANTED” and Post Malone on “LEVII’S JEANS.” On “II MOST WANTED,” Cyrus and Beyoncé share equal lyrical distribution — an uncommon occurrence in the music industry. 

Prior to the release of the album, Beyoncé released the singles “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES” during this year’s Super Bowl. “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” is a lively country song that invites listeners to dance, whereas “16 CARRIAGES” consists of deep and emotional lyrics combined with production that could only be delivered by Beyoncé.

Beyoncé even sings opera in the uncharacteristically slow song “DAUGHTER,” featuring an interpolation from “Caro Mio Ben” by Italian opera singer Tommaso Giordani. The interpolation is hauntingly beautiful and fits perfectly into the song.

Some personal favorites of mine include the captivating gospel-influenced “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” and the uplifting “MY ROSE”; both tracks are lyrical and musical standouts. “MY ROSE” is about self-belief while “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” briefly showcases the rest of the album and provides a taste of the record’s recurring references to the Civil Rights Movement.

THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW” opens and closes with a crowd cheer as Linda Martell introduces the groovy track “YA YA,” describing it as a “particular tune [that] stretches across a range of genres.” “BODYGUARD” has a 1980s feel to it that is unusual for Beyoncé, which adds an element of surprise to the album. 

DESERT EAGLE” contains common country lyrics like “do-si-do” but fits the funk genre more with its accented beats. The beautiful track, “AMEN,” that concludes the album is also gospel-inspired and lyrically references the album’s opening track, “AMERIICAN REQUIEM.” It is a gorgeous and perfect ending to this incredible amalgamation of multiple genres. It feels like the album has come full circle since the first track.

I’m not a fan of most country music, but when it comes to Beyoncé, how could I not enjoy it? Her musical artistry is marvelous and this album is no exception. In this album, Beyoncé displays her tremendous vocal range and abilities. It is such a fun album and is definitely worth listening to. I hope “COWBOY CARTER” earns Beyoncé her first Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. 

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