2014 produced some mega, all-out wonderful albums. Albums that will go down in history and be talked about for decades. Country Outfitter Style chose our Top Country Albums of the Year, but we couldn’t settle there. Those albums were epic and wonderful. However, there was more to be said.
7 Country Music Albums I Couldn’t Turn Off in 2014:
1. Sturgill Simpson // Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Only two other albums have captivated me the way Simpson‘s has. (Taylor Swift’s Red and Beyonce’s 4.) Simpson‘s lyrics are deeper than anything you will ever hear on the radio and his gritty, yet toned voice is a serene mix of Merle Haggard and a choir boy. He melds a traditional country music sound with rockabilly in a way that’s almost too good to be true. Simpson’s been labeled an outlaw, but is still able to relate to even the most casual of listeners with lyrics like, “Ain’t no point getting outta bed if you aint living the dream,” and “But it ain’t all flowers / Sometimes you gotta feel the thorns.
And when you play with the Devil you know you gonna get the horns.”
2. Dierks Bentley // Riser
Bentley’s Riser has a little bit of everything on it. It’s deep and soulful, poignant and inspiring…and still manages to talk about drinkin’ and girls. It’s commercial and mainstream, while digging into heartache and even the meaning of life. Bentley was able to capture his emotions in a raw and real state, without isolating listeners. You never feel sad while listening to some of the more tragic tunes– you sing along. This album made us all risers.
3. Little Big Town // Pain Killer
From 30,000 feet the entire concept of Little Big Town seems off. Four adults with totally different styles and personalities getting together and singing in a band? Sure. Upon even the slightest inspection, nothing has ever worked so well together, especially on Pain Killer. Without any doubt whatsoever, this is the finest piece of work the quartet has ever produced. The album’s lead single “Day Drinking” seemed to be taking us in the familiar direction of the group (and country radio), but one listen to “Girl Crush” and “Faster Gun” and you see the course has been completely altered. Dare I say that in 11 months, this will win the CMA for Album of the Year? Write it down.
4. Lee Ann Womack // The Way I’m Livin
I’m not afraid to say the only Lee Ann Womack I really knew before 2014 was the cheesed out “I Hope You Dance” Lee Ann Womack. What a wonderful surprise The Way I’m Livin’ has been for this listener. Womack is a fine storyteller, an out-of-this-world vocalist and with this album she’s beckoning the world to get back to her type of country music– traditional, soulful and profound.
5. Miranda Lambert // Platinum
I liked this album the day it was released and every day, I like it more and more. These days, Miranda is carrying the load for women in country music (save Carrie, Kacey and a few others) and Platinum can certainly handle the weight. Miranda is slowly walking away from the girl “who will burn your house down” to the “definitely won’t take your shit, but don’t be scared of her” lady. The truly scary things is that it seems she’s only getting started.
6. Eric Paslay // Eric Paslay
Sorry for being a total Eric Paslay homer. This album has to be one of the most mature debut releases ever. Paslay fits into almost every genre of Country there is– folk rocker, country pop, spirit driven– and they all fit together seamlessly. Fun, upbeat tunes like “Friday Night” and “Song About a Girl” prove Paslay can play to the mainstream and ballads like “Deep As It Is Wide” and “She Don’t Love You” show vocal and songwriting prowess like few others.
7. Garth Brooks // Man Against Machine
When Garth announced his comeback, I was both ecstatic and terrified. He exited the game on top and I wanted him to stay there for the remainder of my album-listening days. Man Against Machine did not disappoint. He promised us “Garth music” and in return we got one of the best albums of the year and yes, we got Garth music. Hard-hitting guitar riffs, heart-tuggers, sing-alongs and total cheesiness (Sorry, “People Loving People“). Overall, it’s one excellent return to the game.