Beyonce celebrated for ‘impressive’ mastery bending ‘musical styles to her will’

The 27-track offering from the US pop star features duets with Miley Cyrus and Post Malone.

Beyonce was praised for ‘impressive’ mastery bending ‘musical styles to her will’
Beyonce was praised for ‘impressive’ mastery bending ‘musical styles to her will’ (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Beyonce has been praised by critics for her adaptability in straddling the country-pop genre with her new album Act II: Cowboy Carter.

The eighth studio album from the US pop star features duets with Miley Cyrus and Post Malone, covers of Dolly Parton’s Jolene and The Beatles classic Blackbird, while country singers Willie Nelson and Linda Martell also star.

BBC News music correspondent Mark Savage described the album as an “immaculate country-pop record that proves her adaptability and mastery, regardless of genre”.

He praised her “technical mastery” in blending classic country sounds of Appalachian fiddles and lap steel guitars with pop melodies and rap verses “so seamlessly”.

“Cowboy Carter is a blast, with hooky, memorable songs that are theatrical, mournful, playful, lovestruck, whimsical and carnal – often at the same time”, he adds.

Rock and pop critic Alexis Petridis, of the Guardian, said Cowboy Carter shows “Beyonce is impressively capable of doing whatever she wants”.

Awarding the album four out of five stars, he said the 27-track offering “might have worked better split into two separate albums”, but also said it displayed “its author’s ability to bend musical styles to her will”.

Will Hodgkinson, of the Times, agreed Beyonce “would have been better off leaving the remaining seven songs for another album”, also awarding it four out of five stars.

He described it as a “slick and starry western epic” but “stylistically all over the place”, while also describing it as having a “refreshing sense of fun and adventure”.

Meanwhile, Telegraph music critic Neil McCormick embraced the 80-minute project in its totality, hailing it a “masterpiece” and giving it a perfect five out of five star rating.

It notes that some country purists may cringe at the singer’s adaptation of Parton’s Jolene and the genre itself, but he feels it “stirs up the western and puts the you know what into country”.

He also praised it as a “twisted and magnificent psychedelic shapeshifting folk-rock hip-hop broadside against the conservatism of the country genre”.

Page Six critic Nicholas Hautman also welcomed Cowboy Carter as “the revival that country music so desperately needed”.

He justified his three and a half out of four rating as he hailed the project as “instantly timeless” and a “soulful celebration of Southern values and the genre’s African American roots”.

The US superstar has been snubbed by the Record Academy from the coveted album of the year award five times, a point she notes in her penultimate track Sweet Honey Buckiin’.

Hautman notes that if the Grammy eludes her once again he is ready to rebel, calling for others to “grab your cowboy hat and boots ’cause we ride at dawn”.

Many of the reviewers also picked up on Beyonce’s own warning that “this ain’t a country album, this is a Beyonce album”.

New York Times music writer Ben Sisario agrees with Queen Bey as he sees Cowboy Carter as “far broader” due to her nods to artists across the musical spectrum including her cover of the Beatles’ Blackbird.

Her also notes her interpolations of the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations and Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ on her track Ya Ya add further diversity while her song Bodyguard would “not be out of place on a modern rock radio station”.

“The album’s range suggests a broad essay on contemporary pop music, and on the nature of genre itself”, he adds.