November 18, 2008
What a difference a voice makes. Mere weeks after its initial release, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” has been re-released to incorporate Reba McEntire, who reprises her CMA show cameo with an added bonus of audibility (nice!). Her harmony presence in the first two choruses lends the frail number some sonic punch, but her key-changing steal of the third one becomes the record’s new highlight.
Granted, it’s a distracting shift that technically doesn’t work, as the song itself really doesn’t call for it. But let’s be frank: it’s not as though the song was all that interesting anyway, and who’s going to gripe about structural integrity when a guest vocal is this damn good? In the span of thirty seconds, McEntire makes you believe every tired word, reminds you why she’s one of the best singers the genre has ever seen, and proves that she’s probably more entitled than any other person ever to sing the words “cowgirl” and “cry.” This is still the same humdrum song it was a few weeks ago, and McEntire’s brief presence here amounts to little more than novelty – but novelty has never sounded better.
Listen: Cowgirls Don’t Cry