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Welcome to the Beyonce rodeo: new country album drops to praise

NEW YORK, United States — Fans and critics alike are lavishing praise on "Cowboy Carter," Beyonce's rhinestone-studded, history-rich honky tonk of an album that's rising in the charts after Friday's hotly anticipated release.

A rowdy, wide-ranging homage to her southern heritage, the 27-track second act to her "Renaissance" trilogy is a genre-bending triumph that vaunts Black country culture.

"No one will mistake this sprawling set for ever following a straight path, or having a remotely dull moment," wrote the critic at entertainment trade publication Variety.

"It's almost as if Beyonce was watching some of the evolutionary leaps and hiccups country has been experiencing as it redefines its boundaries — as the music always has — and said, 'Hold my Armand de Brignac. I've got this.'"

"But it's not just a matter of what Beyonce can do for country music; it's what her concept of country can do for her, in expanding her musical empire and even her already well-honed sense of self. It's a lot."

It's too early to say where "Cowboy Carter" and its voluminous tracklist will land on the charts, but streaming service Spotify said that as of Friday evening it was the platform's "most-streamed album in a single day in 2024 so far."

The Houston-born 42-year-old pioneered and mastered the surprise online album drop, but for the first two "Renaissance" acts, she turned to a more traditional marketing strategy, with calculated promos and deluxe physical editions for purchase.

Her ode to dance "Renaissance" soared to Billboard's number one spot when it was released in 2022, and "Cowboy Carter" appears primed for a repeat.

Add in another blockbuster tour like she did for Act I — the "Beyonce bump" literally was blamed for raising Sweden's inflation rate, and bolstered local economies wherever it rolled into town — and Queen Bey will do-si-do straight to the bank.

Related:  Beyonce goes country, unveils upcoming album 'Cowboy Carter'

Hoedown throwdown

"Cowboy Carter" is a full-color display of just how rich music can grow outside dusty strictures of genre.

Beyonce deftly skewers the critics — Nashville's gatekeepers have long tried to promote a rigid view of country music