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Beyoncé shakes up country with Cowboy Carter and seduces critics

Critical praise is raining down on Beyoncé's new album, Cowboy Carter, with rich country influences in the form of a nod to the global star's Texan roots, after its release on Friday.

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Beyoncé shakes up country with Cowboy Carter and seduces critics

Critical praise is raining down on Beyoncé's new album, Cowboy Carter, with rich country influences in the form of a nod to the global star's Texan roots, after its release on Friday. Second act of the Renaissance musical trilogy, the 27-track album pays a powerful tribute to black country culture, with a strong emphasis on dance, soul and hip-hop.

“No one will think that this sprawling ensemble follows a single, straight path or that it is boring for even a single moment,” writes the specialist magazine Variety. It's a bit as if Beyoncé is taking back some of the phases and evolutions that country has gone through, redefining its boundaries as music has always done.

In a first indication of likely commercial success, Spotify announced Friday night on X that Cowboy Carter was already the album that received the most streams in one day this year. His ode to dance, Renaissance, rose to first place on the Billboard charts upon its release in 2022.

With this new album, the 42-year-old singer born in Houston, Texas, dusts off the image of country music reserved for white and male artists. Because Beyoncé seems to take great pleasure in shaking up traditions. She thus plays the hip-hop and house cards on the title Sweet Honey Buckiin', recalling the first act of Renaissance, also a snub to the purists, celebrating the African-American influence in electro. The recognition even came from the White House on Friday. “Beyoncé, thank you for reminding us to never get caught up in what others think of you,” Vice President Kamala Harris wrote. You redefined a genre and reclaimed the black roots of country music. Your music continues to inspire us all.”

Throughout the album, with songs that sound like celebration, freedom, letting go, the artist addresses motherhood, sex, love. “It's not just about what Beyoncé can do for country music, it's about what her conception of country can do for her, expanding her musical empire and even her knowledge of herself , already well developed,” continues Variety.

Also read “She’s less scary”: the return to grace of country music

Beyoncé, aka “Queen B,” recently spoke out on Instagram: “The criticism that came my way when I first got into [country music] forced me to push past my own limits. This new album is the result of the challenges I set for myself and the time I took to twist and mix genres for this work. All with a cocktail of young stars like Miley Cyrus, Post Malone and Tanner Adell but also icons of the old guard. She covers, among others, the classic Jolene by absolute country star Dolly Parton and Blackbird, the Beatles' song about nine black teenagers who became icons of the civil rights movement by integrating a high school reserved for white students, in the South the United States. Country giant Willie Nelson also makes an appearance.

Beyoncé, known worldwide for titles like Crazy in Love or Beautiful Liar, mixes genres and history, like her title Ya Ya, a mixture of soul and psychedelic and frenzied dance which manages to cover both These Boots Are Made For Walkin' by Nancy Sinatra and the Beach Boys. A tour de force. “With this endlessly entertaining project, she becomes a warrior for female and black pride and the beloved heart of radio,” writes Variety.

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