Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’

The 27-track album dropped on Friday, March 29.
This cover image released by Parkwood/Columbia/Sony shows "Act ll: Cowboy Carter" by Beyonce. (Parkwood/Columbia/Sony via AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

This cover image released by Parkwood/Columbia/Sony shows "Act ll: Cowboy Carter" by Beyonce. (Parkwood/Columbia/Sony via AP)

“This ain’t a country album,” Beyoncé stated in an Instagram post 10 days before the release of “Cowboy Carter.” “This is a Beyoncé album.”

If you were looking for a full-length, purely country album from Queen Bey, “Country Carter” isn’t it. Instead, it’s mainly a country-inspired project, as the pop icon uses elements of country music to fuel her genre-bending Western epic filled with fun and freedom. The 27-track LP features appearances from Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Tanner Adell, Shaboozey and more.

Here are key takeaways from “Cowboy Carter”:

‘Blackbiird’ uplifts budding Black female country artists

Last month, with “Texas Hold ‘Em,” Beyoncé became the first Black woman to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. The feat sparked conversation about the history and future of Black women in country music who are often overlooked. On ‘Blackbiird,” the second track on “Cowboy Carter,” she makes them the main characters. The song is a cover of the 1968 Beatles hit, which was inspired by the Little Rock 9 (the group of Black students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School). In Beyoncé's twist on the classic, she amplifies the voices of rising Black female country singers by featuring Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts on the song.

A whole lotta genre-bending

“Cowboy Carter” is a lot more than a country album. Both a student and master of music history, Beyoncé's knack for wielding genres to tell a story comes to life throughout her latest offering. With “Ya Ya,” she embodies the rock ‘n’ roll showmanship of the late Tina Turner, using the depths of her vocal growl to incite resistance and embrace community while interpolating the Beach Boys along the way. On “Spaghettii,” which features Linda Martell and Shaboozey, she delivers what’s likely the best rap performance of her career with the song’s opening verse: “I ain’t in no gang, but I got shooters and I bang-bang/ At the snap of my fingers, I’m Thanos/ And I’m still on your head, cornrows.”

The more R&B-tinged “Tyrant” spotlights Beyoncé's sensual side, while “Daughter” finds the singer in full operatic mode, reminiscent of her 2008 cover “Ave Maria

She covers ‘Jolene’

“Hey, miss Honey B, it’s Dolly P. You know that hussy with the good hair you sing about?”

That’s country legend Dolly Parton on an interlude on “Cowboy Carter.” The lines are presented as a voicemail message that introduces Beyoncé's highly-anticipated cover of “Jolene.” Whereas Parton’s classic original centers the tale of a women who desperately wants her man’s other lover to leave him alone, Beyoncé's rendition is a firm warning: “I can easily understand/ Why you’re attracted to my man/ But you don’t want this smoke, so shoot your shot with someone else (You heard me),” she sings.

On Beyoncé's version, there aren’t any hopeless pleas nor celebration of the other woman’s beauty. It’s all bark and all bite, as the cover highlights a protagonist who understands her worth and knows her man wouldn’t dare have eyes for anyone else.

Linda Martell has her own moment

Beyoncé's announcement of “Cowboy Carter” and its track listing led many to highlight the work of Linda Martell, the first Black female solo artist to play the Grand Ole Opry whose history is often forgotten. On “Cowboy Carter,” her life and legacy takes center stage. The iconic country singer can be heard on “Spaghettii” saying, “Genres are a funny little concept, aren’t they? Yes, they are/ In theory, they have a simple definition that’s easy to understand/ But in practice, well, some may feel confined.” The lines hearken back to Beyoncé’s initial intent for the album to not be interpreted as one genre.

Beyoncé honors Martell again with the track “The Linda Martell Show,” an interlude that samples one of Martell’s performances.

What will Act 3 bring?

“Cowboy Carter” is the second of Beyoncé's three musical acts. The first, “Renaissance,” was dedicated to the rich legacy of house music. If “Cowboy Carter” honors country music, then will the final act be an ode to rock, as it’s rumored to be? Who knows. Throughout her career, Beyoncé has mastered the art of making mysterious perfection. At its best “Cowboy Carter,” is a testament to the strength of Beyoncé's vocal performance and ability to still sound flawless in any genre.