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Country

Beyoncé's 'Cowboy Carter' is Filled with Canadian Songwriters and Producers

Shawn Everett, Dave Hamelin, Elizabeth Lowell Boland, Megan Bülow and Nathan Ferraro all had a hand in the new country-inspired record from the pop mega-star.

Beyoncé

Beyoncé

Blair Caldwell

Beyoncé's new album Cowboy Carter has taken over the pop culture discourse.

The 27-track follow-up to 2022's Renaissance is a dense work that explores the past and present of Black country music while also resisting any kind of genre rigidity. In addition to performances from artists like Dolly Parton, Post Malone, Brittney Spencer and Shaboozey, the album features the work of a long list of writers and producers, including several Canadians.


Dave Hamelin, formerly of Montreal indie band The Stills, worked on six tracks across Cowboy, producing all six and writing on five. Hamelin contributed to previously-released ballad "16 Carriages" and the Willie Jones collaboration "Just For Fun," both of which lean into Cowboy's country focus. He also worked on hip-hop influenced "Tyrant," gospel-informed album closer "Amen" and "II Hands II Heaven," an introspective standout that blends images of the American West with melancholic guitar, a pulsing kick drum and mournful electronics.

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Grammy-winning producer Shawn Everett, who recently picked up two Juno Awards, also contributed to the record, co-producing Beyoncé's collaboration with Miley Cyrus, "II Most Wanted." Cyrus and Beyoncé sound fantastic together, and the track has some tasteful production and arrangement choices, like a gentle fluttering violin before the second verse. Everett collaborator Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs also performs on it.

Elizabeth Lowell Boland, who also produced The Beaches' breakthrough record Blame My Ex, wrote for two tracks on Carter. Boland collaborated with fellow Canadians Megan Bülow and Nathan Ferraro on lead single "Texas Hold 'Em," which Ferraro also co-produced. Ferraro spoke with Billboard Canadaabout how the Canadian songwriting trio came together, also working on Charli XCX's 2022 track "Yuck."

Boland is also credited without Bülow and Ferraro as a writer on "Bodyguard." The catchy track fits with Boland's indie background — she releases her own music via Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts as Lowell — with a bouncy piano and acoustic guitar arrangement that sounds fit for a 2000s alt-pop group. The impassioned lyrics are less about protecting the ones you love than the desire to do something, anything, for them.

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Beyond her Canadian collaborators, Beyoncé also worked with country legends, R&B hitmakers, and rising pop auteurs. Willie Nelson, Linda Martell and Parton all serve as the hosts of Cowboy's fictional radio station, with Parton also co-signing a reworked version of her classic "Jolene." She includes snippets of classic songs by pioneering Black country artists, including Roy Hamilton's "Don't Let Go," which 'inspired' a young Elvis Presley. Hamilton's grandson, Roy Hamilton III, is now a Toronto-based producer and songwriter. In 2023, his family started a petition to get Hamilton into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

On Instagram, Beyoncé explicitly stated that Cowboy Carter is not a country album — it's a Beyoncé album. It feels like an apt disclaimer for a record that draws on the history of country in America, refracting that history through Beyoncé's inventive style and powerhouse musicianship. Cowboy Carter brings together bluegrass, country-pop, gospel, and even dabbles in electronica, linking Cowboy to its predecessor, Renaissance. Like dance opus Renaissance, Cowboy Carter reclaims a genre that would not exist without Black artists, though Black musicians are often written out of its past and excluded from its present.

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Other contributors include pop ingenue Ryan Beatty, production duo Nova Wav and UK singer Raye.

Listen to the album here.

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