Beyonce - Cowboy Carter
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Cowboy Carter (Columbia, 2024)


Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

With the "Cowboy Carter" opening track, "American Requiem," Beyoncé makes her case for familial, if not always stylistic, country legitimacy. After singing a brief biographical sketch she states, "If that ain't country, tell me what is." This opener also seeks out a positive, collective purpose for the United States with the line, "Can we stand for something?" Although the album begins with a familiar Beyoncé political stance, the collection – thankfully – is not all that politically-themed after that. Folks love to debate whether this record is a true 'country' or not. The bigger question, though, is if it's a good album. It is, and may be the most palatable, song-strong Beyoncé project to date.

The best track is Beyoncé's duet with Miley Cyrus on "II Most Wanted." Its instrumentation may not be especially country, but it is sung well and has an acoustic arrangement that feels a lot like Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." The duet with Post Malone on "LevII's Jeans" is another highlight. It's a simple, sexy song with an easygoing groove about wishing to be a partner's jeans and is a track that just goes down so easy. "Bodyguard," one more sexy song, is also out of left field and sounds a little like an acoustic MGMT track. Also not country, but fully enjoyable.

Nothing else on the album is as country-leaning as the initial single, "Texas Hold 'Em." Even a juiced-up, lyrically altered cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" incorporates as many dance music elements as acoustic instrumentation. The acoustic guitar-driven "Daughter," with its Mexican ballad vibe, is one of the sweetest things Beyoncé has ever created.

Although the album is too long, with 27 tracks (including a few Willie Nelson spoken word segments), the album will nevertheless likely grow on you. If you go into this album ready to accuse Beyoncé of making a cynical cash grab at the country music genre, you'll probably be disappointed. However, if you're ready to hear Beyoncé put some of her best songs into Americana-tinged templates, then by all means cowboy up to this one.

CDs by Beyonce

Cowboy Carter, 2024

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