Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” is a Masterful Love Letter to Country’s Roots

Beyonce at the 2016 MTV Music Awards
Beyonce at the 2016 MTV Music Awards. Photo by David X Prutting/BFA/REX/Shutterstock (5848771av)

Beyoncé never shied away from experimenting with different genres, but her decision to embrace country was a true stroke of genius. Her long-awaited Cowboy Carter is a love letter to country’s Black roots we’ve been waiting for, and it cements Queen B’s legacy as one of the most versatile artists of her generation.

Beyoncé made it clear that Cowboy Carter isn’t a country album, but a “Beyoncé album” when she first announced its title, and she doubled down on this statement from the very first track. “American Requiem” infuses the album with gospel vibes, and sees Queen B addressing claims she doesn’t belong on the country scene.

Her cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” continued exploring the overlooked impact of African-American artists on this genre, and it saw her joining forces with several Black female country stars. Despite its brilliance, her version of “Jolene” is the album’s best cover and one of the signature tracks, shedding a new, defiant light on the Dolly Parton classic we all know and love.

Parton also joined Cowboy Carter as one of Beyoncé’s A-list collaborators on the track “Tyrant” – and she wasn’t the only one! She also brought Willie Nelson, Post Malone, Linda Martell, and Shaboozey on board, but duet “II Most Wanted” ft. Miley Cyrus is definitely the album’s most brilliant collaboration.

Beyoncé shines as brightly all on her own, and previously released solo singles “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages” carry us through the first half of the album. “Bodyguard”, “Ya Ya”, and “Riverdance” are also worth listening to on repeat, while “Amen” brings things full circle, in a gospel-inspired fashion of the album’s opener. “American Requiem”.

When Beyoncé first revealed the tracklist of Cowboy Carter, the long list of titles left everyone puzzled, but it turned out all 27 of them were actual songs. Some of them are intros and snippets, and not every single one will have a long-term impact, but they all work in the grand scheme of things, serving as worthy building blocks in Cowboy Carter’s legacy.

Cowboy Carter is a true genre-defying masterpiece that perfectly blends the country sound with pop, R&B, soul, and rock, reminding us there’s nothing Beyoncé can’t do. It’s proof that she’s still capable of reinviting herself after almost three decades, and it breathes a new life into a genre where she once felt out of place.