Country Perspective’s 2014 Album of the Year Nominees

Over the course of 2014 we have seen all kinds of great country music. We’ve had debut albums that have surprised everyone and comeback albums that reminded everyone they still got it. This was not only the case across the entire country music world, but in Country Perspective’s nominees for 2014 Album of the Year. The amount of diversity in terms of sound, artist, nationalities, and concepts gives everyone something they can like. Some might say 2014 was a “down” year for country music compared to 2013, but I saw plenty of great music to refute this notion. And today I will highlight what we at Country Perspective to believe the best of the best.

Derek and myself will both ultimately decide which album will win Country Perspective’s top award. But we’re not the only ones deciding. We encourage feedback from you the readers! Your comments and suggestions will most certainly influence who wins not only this award, but all the year-end awards here at Country Perspective.

One more thing: In order for an album to be eligible for Album of the Year, it must have received a perfect 10/10 rating in its review. No other albums are considered. Only the best of the best get a shot. I just wanted to point this out so everyone knows why a certain album did not get nominated. So without further ado: the nominees! (listed in alphabetical order)

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

Swedish sisters Johanna and Anna Söderberg delivered one of the most underrated albums of 2014. Their blending of folk, country and pop elements made for a pretty dynamic album. They not only show off their stunning harmonies, but their ability to put the right amount of emotion behind each lyric. To me Stay Gold was the coming out party for this duo and I only hope more people in America take notice of their talent.

Every once in a while when listening to music, you’ll get blindsided from something out of left field. This is music that is so good or bad that it just takes your breath away when it hits your ears. Today’s album is so damn good I couldn’t help but smile the entire time I listened to it. There is no use in beating around the bush. First Aid Kit’s new album Stay Gold is absolutely phenomenal. The Swedish sister duo of Johanna and Klara Söderberg are like a fresh breath of air when hearing them harmonize together. It’s so pure and raw. Throw in spot-on instrumentation and you got one hell of an album. Click here for the full review.

Karen Jonas – Oklahoma Lottery

Once again in 2014 female country artists put out better music than male country artists. One of the many great female artists to emerge in 2014 is Virginia country artist Karen Jonas. Her debut album Oklahoma Lottery is one of the best debut albums I have ever heard from an artist. Her songwriting is wise beyond her years. Her raw and honest style on the album is refreshing and let’s the music do the talking.

When it comes to Oklahoma Lottery though, I just can’t find anything wrong. I mean if you’re really nitpicking you could say it’s too raw at times, but I think the rawness adds another layer to the album. Really it enhances it and makes the more emotional songs stand out. I find it very hard for anyone who likes traditional country music to not like this album. Karen Jonas is truly breaking out with this album and I am very eager to hear her next album. You can’t do much better for a debut album. Expect to see Jonas’ name a lot in Country Perspective’s year-end awards list of nominees. Oklahoma Lottery comes with my highest recommendation. Click here for the full review.

Lucette – Black Is The Color

Everything artist Dave Cobb touches turns to gold. The young Canadian country artist tapping Cobb to be her producer on her first album was a great choice. Ditching the Nashville scene and going independent to make the music she wants to make was an even better choice. If you like dark and gothic country music, this is for you.

You don’t come across too many artists that have fantastic debut album. Many are still finding themselves and the kind of music they want to make, but Lucette seems to already know what she wants. With her talent and vision the sky is the limit in terms of the success she can have in her career. This is an artist that every true country fan needs to keep an eye on and her album Black Is The Color is something everyone should listen to. It’s right on par with Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and will definitely have an excellent chance of being Country Perspective’s Best Country Album of 2014. Click here for the full review.

Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy

When Willie Watson left the group, many people said this band wasn’t the same and Remedy was one of their worst albums ever. To them I say bullshit. Even people who gave this album a good chance sort of dismissed this as a typical O.C.M.S album. You should never dismiss great music like this. While there are several songs showing off the fun side of the band, it’s their deeper and more somber songs that impress me like “The Warden” and “Dearly Departed Friend.”

Remedy has everything you want in an album. There’s a song everyone can listen to and connect with. Or just listen to and have a good time. Without a doubt, this is one of the top candidates for Country Perspective’s Album of the Year. Click here for the full review.

Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time

Swimmin’ Time is one of the frontrunners to win Album of the Year and for good reason. This is damn fine music. Along with Lucette’s album I mentioned above, this is the other darkest country album in 2014. Just listen to “Ohio” and “Evil.” You’ll get the point. If you’re looking for a new duo to fill the void of the Civil Wars, I can’t think of a better choice than Shovels & Rope.

My only regret with Shovels & Rope is that I didn’t listen to their music sooner. This is a pair of musicians that simply understand what country music is all about. It’s not about partying and drinking beers on a tailgates nor driving on a dirt road. It’s about telling a story that the everyday person can relate to and feel as they listen. This is a group that has so many influences from other genres that you honesty can’t even place a label on them. Click here for the full review.

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

You may have heard about this guy and his new album. He’s only been making the rounds on late night talk show circuits and touring with the Zac Brown Band. If you had to pick one artist that has been the critical darling of country music critics, you would have to pick Sturgill Simpson. His 2013 debut album High Top Mountain was great. His follow up album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is even better.

I never even heard of Sturgill Simpson at this time last year and now he’s up there on the charts with the likes of Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. I guess people still love traditional country music after all. This album has set the bar for all country albums in 2014. If you love traditional country music or just great music in general, go buy this album right now. Click here for the full review.

Sunny Sweeney – Provoked

Sweeney absolutely nails it with Provoked. The songwriting is well done and the instrumentation is flawless. She went back to her Red Dirt Texas roots, but also gave it a modern flavor. It’s traditional country music for sure. Many country artists after losing major record deals or mainstream relevance try too hard to win their old appeal back from Music Row or the mainstream country audience instead of just being themselves and trying to produce the best country music possible. Whoever decided to cut Sweeney loose from her major label deal is looking like a real idiot after hearing this album from Sweeney. Women are struggling to make it onto country music radio and Sweeney is a prime candidate to fill this gaping void. Sunny Sweeney’s Provoked is one of the best country albums of 2014 and is a front-runner for Country Perspective’s Album of the Year. If you haven’t listened to this album yet and you love real country music, go check this out now. Click here for the full review.

Tami Neilson – Dynamite!

Tami Neilson Album Cover

The New Zealand country artist takes listeners on a trip back to the old days of country music. It’s certainly an older style, but Neilson makes it feel fresh and new. She may just have the best vocals among female artists in country music. You may think this is a little extreme, but think about it. Tell me I’m wrong. You can’t.

I’m glad I was able to review Tami Neilson’s Dynamite! before the posting of nominees for year-end awards here at Country Perspective because she will certainly be considered in a number of categories. It would have been criminal not to include her among the best of country music in 2014. This album is simply phenomenal and I will reiterate this again: go buy and listen to this album. Click here for the full review.

The Secret Sisters – Put Your Needle Down

While Sweden is home to the sister duo of First Aid Kit, America boasts it’s own dynamic country sister duo in Laura and Lydia Rogers of The Secret Sisters. As Derek said in his review of the album:

Fitting The Secret Sisters into one genre of music is an impossible task. Their musical influences are vast, coming from an array of artists and decades. You may be quick to box them in as traditional country; after all, many of the songs on their debut record four years ago are covers of country greats like George Jones, Hank Williams, Bill Monroe and Buck Owens. However, their sophomore effort, Put Your Needle Down, shatters that little glass box and shows the sisters, Laura and Lydia Rogers, playing rock music, a little blues, Motown, 1950s style ballads alongside their country roots. The sisters also focused their efforts for this album on their original material, co-writing 9 of the 12 tracks, with writers such as Dan Wilson, Gordie Sampson, Brandi Carlile and they finished an incomplete song from Bob Dylan. Under producer T Bone Burnett, The Secret Sisters deliver a brilliant album to their fans. Click here for the full review.

Be sure to sound off in the comments below! What album should win Country Perspective’s 2014 Album of the Year?

11 thoughts on “Country Perspective’s 2014 Album of the Year Nominees

  1. Zack December 10, 2014 / 11:13 am

    Personally i think Sturgill should take it, with the Secret Sisters second. However its hard to go wrong either way. Nice picks! I’ve honestly yet to hear half of the albums(i’m new to underground country) but i’ve heard great things. Glad i found your website

    Liked by 2 people

    • Josh Schott December 10, 2014 / 11:30 am

      Welcome to Country Perspective! Glad you found us. And welcome to independent country music. All of these albums are a great place to start when it comes to independent country. There’s definitely plenty of good music in this part of country music to keep you happy.

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      • Zack December 10, 2014 / 12:39 pm

        Thanks! It’s been fun finding out what acts like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Eady are all about. I still have a lot of searching to do but i’m on my way! Something else you could do is highlight some of the best mainstream country albums that came out this year, after all “Riser” and “The Way I’m Livin”(if this counts as mainstream) were definently great albums worthy of praise as well. Also really enjoyed your mainstream country artists ranking as well. Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cobra December 10, 2014 / 12:18 pm

    Of the albums nominated, Sturgill Simpson would be my pick. Honestly, I still haven’t heard Tami Nelson’s album, but I keep hearing great things about it, so I will have to check it out soon.

    I will be publishing my own Top 10 Albums of 2014 list in the next couple of days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin December 10, 2014 / 12:53 pm

      Tami’s is (obviously by her inclusion here) definitely worth a listen! Her Kitchen Table Session albums are great as well.

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  3. Kevin Davis December 10, 2014 / 1:15 pm

    As much as I love Shovels & Rope, I have to say that Sturgill, the reincarnation of Waylon, should get the win. I hope he gets the Grammy for best Americana album, but I suspect that Rosanne Cash will get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. draco48135 December 10, 2014 / 11:01 pm

    I’m horrible at making tough decisions like picking a favorite album of an entire year but I’d have to pick Sturgill just due to the recognition he’s gotten this year. I feel like he deserves it the most (though they all deserve it)

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  5. NoahHibiscusEaton December 11, 2014 / 2:16 am

    While I won’t lie in lamenting Jason Eady’s “Daylight & Dark” being absent altogether from this field (which I personally would mint Best Country Album of 2014)………….I’ll sadly nod rather than whine and boycott and say First Aid Kit’s “Stay Gold” is my personal favorite in this selection, but who I ideally think should win has to be Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music”.

    We would be remiss not to formally acknowledge the intense impact Simpson has ade this calendar year compared to all the rest of these deserving nominees. With respect to them, Sturgill’s just on an entirely different level at this point in that he has earned a Grammy nod, is selling out virtually every venue he plays, and has won Emerging Artist of the Year from the Americana Music Association. But it is equally as important not to overlook the music, and the album lives up to its hype. It’s undoubtedly replete with ambition, but equally as important Simpson understands that the primacy of a song resonates from the sharpness and accessibility of the composition. That balance makes for adventurous, yet intimate, music that is among the very best put out this year. Even his interpretation of “The Promise” is so compelling and distinctive.

    So yeah, make that another vote for Sturgill Simpson, with my runner-up in this list being First Aid Kit and my actual fall-around favorite being Jason Eady’s “Daylight & Dark”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Josh Schott December 11, 2014 / 11:20 am

      Jason Eady’s “Daylight & Dark” was certainly the most interesting in terms of overall reception from fans and critics alike. I have yet to see a single person say they don’t like it. But I’ve noticed most people fall into two camps. They either love it and say it’s one of the best albums of the year (like yourself). Then there’s people who thought it was very good, but not album of the year good (like myself). I explain why in my review: http://countryperspective.com/2014/07/08/album-review-jason-eadys-daylight-dark/

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