Over the course of 2014 we saw many talented male country artists put out fantastic albums. Most of them came from the independent and Red Dirt Texas scenes. Determining who was the best male country artist of 2014 will be no easy feat. The main guidelines for determining who should win are the following: the quality of music they’ve released in 2014, the impact they have made on the genre over the course of the year and the amount of growth they made as an individual artist.
Derek and myself will ultimately determine which artist will win, but we also want to hear from you the readers who is deserving of the award. Your comments will be highly considered for determining who wins and you could possibly sway who should be the winner. So be sure to sound off in the comments! Without further ado the nominees for Country Perspective’s Best Male Country Artist of 2014 (in alphabetical order):
Corb Lund – The true underdog in the fight for Country Perspective’s Best Male Country Artist of 2014. Many may not be familiar with the Canadian country artist, but you absolutely should. Corb Lund is an artist everyone should listen to because you can tell he really pays attention to all of the little details in his music. He’s a true artist who cares about his craft. His ability to seamlessly blend Americana, country and blues into truly unique sounding music is something all true country music fans should appreciate. Can Lund pull off the ultimate upset?
Eric Paslay – The only mainstream artist to make this list. Paslay’s debut album was a solid debut after spending years writing songs in Nashville. While his two biggest radio singles were the weakest on his album, the rest is pretty fine music. His third single “She Don’t Love You” is a candidate for Country Perspective’s Best Country Song of 2014. Paslay has a slim chance at winning here, but him just earning the nomination with his debut album is impressive enough to this critic.
Jason Eady – The first time I heard Jason Eady was when I heard his popular song “A.M. Country Heaven.” His raw and deep voice immediately captured my attention. His 2014 album Daylight & Dark is considered by some to be the best album of 2014. Before Sturgill’s album was released this was the album that was the toast of independent country. While I wasn’t as impressed as others, I still find the album to be a great step forward for Eady and I really think he’s capable of producing even better music. Regardless the artistry he displayed in his album makes him a strong contender.
Matt Woods – The East Nashville artist really broke out with his album With Love From Brushy Mountain. Fans got a taste of how great this album is last year when he released “Deadman’s Blues,” one of the best country songs of 2013. His 2014 album had plenty of songs in the same vein and this is really just the beginning for Woods. Don’t be surprised if you hear his name pop up in future Country Perspective year-end awards list because I don’t think he is even close to his best yet. He still has a great shot though at pulling the ‘upset’ this year.
Stoney LaRue – LaRue is going the opposite direction of fellow Red Dirt artist Bowen. After impressing people on the Texas/independent scene for years, LaRue was signed to a major label and released his first album with them this year. While a few didn’t like the approach of the album, the majority was impressed. I think Derek says it best in his review of Aviator:
Overall, this album is loaded with great instrumentation and vocals within every track. Aviator is a musical definition for “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” There may be songs or instances within songs that can nit-picked for doing or not doing something. But this album is meant to be enjoyed by pushing play at “One and Only” and letting it spin from there. This is an album in the true sense of the word.
Sturgill Simpson – In the independent country realm, he’s been the most talked about male artist of 2014. He was a relative unknown at the start of the year, but with his album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music he captured country music fans’ hearts everywhere. He’s played on late night talk shows like Conan, Letterman and The Tonight Show. Simpson has even caught the attention of mainstream artists like Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley. Zac Brown Band liked his music so much he picked him to open for him on some tour dates. I would be lying if I said Sturgill isn’t the front-runner to win this award.
Wade Bowen – After signing with a major label and earning his first ever top ten album, Bowen realized he had to break away to make the music he really wants to make. I guess you could say his self-titled 2014 album was his ‘comeback.’ Whatever you want to call it the Red Dirt Texas artist holds your attention from beginning to end with one of the best albums of his career. As I said in my review of his album:
There really isn’t one bad song on this album, although there are a couple of songs that don’t shine as bright as the other songs on the album. Nevertheless I really have no complaints about this album. Bowen is pretty much all-around solid on almost every song. The instrumentation is good and the songwriting tells stories and evokes emotions in listeners.
Who should win? Be sure to make your case in the comments below.