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The Shield

University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

‘COWBOY CARTER’ is a solid tribute to country music

Review of Beyoncé’s new album, ‘COWBOY CARTER’
Photo courtesy of Columbia Records
“COWBOY CARTER,” released Friday, is the eighth studio album by R&B singer-songwriter Beyoncé. While the album feels bloated, its faithful rendition of classic country, folk and Americana makes it one of the best country albums of the year.

“COWBOY CARTER,” released Friday, is the eighth studio album by R&B singer-songwriter Beyoncé. The album consists of 27 songs and is 79 minutes long.

This album is interesting, being Beyoncé’s first country album. “COWBOY CARTER” is an album that sees influences from country, folk and Americana. It is a stark divergence from her other music, which was more R&B, rap and pop-focused.

However, although country isn’t Beyoncé’s native genre, “COWBOY CARTER” stands tall as a powerful tribute to classic country music and one of the strongest country albums released this year.

The album begins with “AMERIICAN REQUIEM,” a five-minute bombshell of an opener that sets the stage for the rest of the album. The stripped-back acoustic guitar, the reverb from the background instrumentals and the gorgeous vocals are the building blocks of this album. This album oozes with personality, which is easily the best thing about it.

Even though I don’t love every song on this album, every song is unique and distinct from the others. Each song has a particular vibe and personality that is pleasant to listen to. Beyoncé’s vocals are excellent and continue to cement her status as one of the greatest vocalists of her generation. Her voice fits with nearly every song on this album and pushes the classic country vibe she is going for.

(Courtesy of Beyoncé)

This is especially true for the next song on the album, “BLACKBIIRD,” which is a cover of “Blackbird” by The Beatles.

It is a faithful cover, with instrumentals nearly identical to the original song. It’s a very stripped-back song, but also a song that holds up well as a cover. It’s a welcome addition to this album that continues to reinforce it as a tribute to classic country, folk and Americana.

This isn’t the only great cover on the album. “JOLENE” is a cover of “Jolene,” a song by Dolly Parton. Again, it is a faithful cover that shows how well the song has aged and is a welcome addition to the album.

The features are also a welcome addition to the album.“DOLLY P” is a song that transitions into “JOLENE,” with Dolly Parton addressing Beyoncé before transitioning into “JOLENE.” It’s a cool addition that makes the cover that much more faithful to the original.

There are spots like this all over the album, with Dolly Parton appearing again on “TYRANT,” Linda Martell appearing on “THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW” and Willie Nelson appearing on “SMOKE HOUR ★ WILLIE NELSON.” Most of these features are delegated to short, 20-second transition songs, but it makes this album feel a lot fuller, and are all welcome additions.

(Courtesy of Beyoncé)

Even with my adoration for this album, it has some weak spots. 

“TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” the lead single for the album, was a song I liked but didn’t love. With the full album out, I like this song even less, as it doesn’t seem to match some of the grand heights some of the other songs have. It was a cool novelty song when it was released, but there are much better songs on this album that do what this song does better.

Some strange stylistic choices also appear now and again on the album, with “SPAGHETTII” being the worst offender. The song has an interesting message behind it — how genres are terms that limit what music ultimately is — but as a song, it is a very strange and out-of-place rap song that just shows up and leaves as if it were never there in the first place.

My final issue with this album is its length. I don’t mind strapping down and listening to a grand epic of an album now and again, but it needs to keep me interested all the way through. “COWBOY CARTER” has songs I see myself skipping in the future, as not every song matches its grand spectacle.


I have been very critical of the modern state of country music, especially pop country. For a genre that is the most popular it has ever been, pop country has refused to evolve or change in any significant way for over 20 years. Musicians making popular country music today sound exactly like those who did it back in the 2000s.

(Courtesy of Beyoncé)

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are artists and albums that have come out recently that are noteworthy in their own right and stand out as excellent country albums. Zach Bryan and Adrianne Lenker are the most recent examples I can think of, both having released excellent, heartfelt music that rises above the status quo of the slop country music has become.

After listening to “COWBOY CARTER,” I can confidently associate this album as another modern-day standout country album.

“COWBOY CARTER” has its problems, and it is way too long, but the majority of the album is an excellent showing of country, folk and Americana music. Beyoncé did her homework and it shows, as this album is more than a transition into country music. It is a love letter to country, folk and Americana music as a whole while staying true to Beyoncé’s typical style.


Least favorite song: “SPAGHETTII”

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About the Contributor
Ian Young
Ian Young, Staff Writer
Ian Young, sophomore journalism major, was a Staff Writer for the 2022-2023 academic year. Young joined The Shield in Fall 2021.  Young enjoys listening to music, playing video games and making his colleagues laugh. Young’s favorite show is “Breaking Bad” because of the writing, cinematography and the memes made from it.  “The Shield is one of the best organizations on campus to work as it allows me to express my voice and the voice of the USI community,” Young said. “This is paired with the incredible people who work here who apply themselves to their work and make this organization a fun and safe place to work and have fun.”