Country Perspective’s Best Country Albums of 2014

We have reached the end of 2014 and over the course of the year we’ve reviewed a lot of great country music. So in case you just found the site or don’t remember all of the great country albums we’ve reviewed, you’re in luck. Here are the links to every album we rated an 8/10 or higher over the course of the year. These are the albums we give a solid recommendation or more for you to listen to. Keep in mind this site started in May, so we won’t have every single great album. For example we never got around to reviewing Dierks Bentley’s album or Don Williams’ album, two albums that would have definitely made this list. So if there are albums missing that you love, they were most likely not reviewed. Others of course may have not been rated high enough to make it. I’m also including our album of the year candidates in case you missed those too. One more thing: only albums are included, no EPs. So without further ado here are Country Perspective’s most recommended albums of 2014.

10/10 (Album of the Year Candidates)

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music 

Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time 

Karen Jonas – Oklahoma Lottery 

Lucette – Black Is The Color 

Tami Neilson – Dynamite! 

Sunny Sweeney – Provoked 

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold 

Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy 

The Secret Sisters – Put Your Needle Down 

9.5/10

Angaleena Presley – American Middle Class 

Micky & The Motorcars – Hearts From Above 

Stoney LaRue – Aviator 

9/10

Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen 

Matt Woods – With Love From Brushy Mountain 

Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’ 

BlackHawk – Brothers of the Southland 

The Roys – The View 

Jason Eady – Daylight & Dark 

Mack McKenzie – One Last, One More 

Bonnie Montgomery – Bonnie Montgomery 

8.5/10

Jon Pardi – Write You A Song 

Ray Scott – Ray Scott 

Mary Sarah – Bridges 

The Buffalo Ruckus – The Buffalo Ruckus 

Rich O’Toole – Jaded 

Corb Lund – Counterfeit Blues 

8/10

Eric Paslay – Eric Paslay 

Phillip Fox Band – Heartland 

Terri Clark – Some Songs 

Country Perspective’s 2014 Song of The Year Nominees

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As 2014 comes to a close, Country Perspective will be handing out a number of awards to the artists, songs, and albums we covered over the year. We’ll be crowning the best of the best and the worst of the worst.  Despite the piles of garbage thrown out to radio this year, there were many great, downright spectacular country songs released for music fans.  More times than not, one had to dig deep into the realms of independent country, or even search international lands for great country song. And surprisingly, a few mainstream artists popped out few tunes this year worthy to be nominated by Country Perspective for Song of Year.

Awards will be handed out in mid-late December. Josh and I will deliberate and reach the final decisions together, but we will also take reader input into consideration. So if you have a strong opinion about a song listed here, or about a song we may have forgotten, feel free to comment below and let us know. Who knows, you may sway the vote! Best Song of the Year may be one of the toughest categories to choose. There are several songs we have listed that could all reasonably be crowned this award. Due to the extensive nature of our list, I’ll give a short-short blurb about each song to keep this post reasonable.

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Without further ado, and in no particular order, your 2014 Country Song of the Year Nominees:

  • Cry Over You” by Tami Neilson – A timeless, 1950s style country song with a spine-tingling vocal delivery from Tami. Great production behind the vocals, and lyrics about heartbreak. This song is everything that makes country music great. Full review of Dynamite! here.
  • Liberty Bell” by Matt Woods – Great acoustic instrumentation that builds to a roaring middle. Woods’ voice carries this song about getting through life’s hardships with hope and perseverance. Full review of With Love From Brushy Mountain here.
  • Find Me” by Sunny Sweeney – On an album with 3 or 4 worthy nominees, “Find Me” stands out for one main reason: Sunny’s emotional delivery of a song about a soul longing for the one. The instrumentation is perfect and builds appropriately behind brilliant lyrics. Full review of Provoked here.
  • What We Ain’t Got” by Jake Owen – This just might be Jake Owen’s best song ever recorded. His voice sells this heartbreaking piano ballad. Owen straight knocks this one out of the park. This song is about as real as life gets. Full song review here.
  • Turtles All the Way Down” by Sturgill Simpson – A song that brilliantly combines the pure, classic sounds of country with modern influences. A song that challenges faith, drugs, and love. This song is Metamodern in the truest sense, and best encapsulates what Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is all about. Full review here.
  • Oklahoma Lottery” by Karen Jonas – A dark, heartbreaking song about struggling through a hard spell of life: Droughts on the farm, faith challenged, and heading West for a better life. Karen Jonas’s voice fluctuates perfectly with the story, and the simple instrumentation is perfect behind the lyrics. Full review of Oklahoma Lottery here.
  • Dearly Departed Friend” by Old Crow Medicine Show – A song discussing the hardships of war: lamenting the loss of a soldier, and touching on topics of PTSD. The folk instrumentation fits with the topic, and shows OCMS’s strength. Full review of Remedy here.
  • Cedar Lane” by First Aid Kit – Beautiful melodies, subdued instrumentation, and deep, thoughtful lyrics about a long-lost of love. This Swedish duo delivers on this impressive song. Full review of Stay Gold here.
  • Baby, The Rain Must Fall” by BlackHawk – Love ends bitterly in this heartbreak song. A simple, acoustic instrumentation with wonderful vocal deliveries and harmonies. Full review of Brothers of the Southland here.
  • I Thank God” by Rich O’Toole – Born out of a surprise pregnancy in an affair, Rich reflects on how he might not have been here if his Mom had gotten an abortion. The lyrics show depth and understanding on the situation. It’s just a beautiful song.  Full review of Jaded here.
  • Liars & Fools” by Jason Eady – Eady sings about trying it out, and giving it your all here. Simple, pure country instrumentation and a heartfelt vocal delivery. Full review of Daylight & Dark here.
  • When I Come Around” by Lee Ann Womack – A great song from the long-awaited release from Lee Ann Womack. Beautiful vocals from Lee Ann about searching for a man she once knew. “When I Come Around” has wonderful country instrumentation to top it off. Full review of The Way I’m Livin here.
  • She Don’t Love You” by Eric Paslay – A heartbroken girl is in a new relationship. Paslay comments to the new man about her brokenness, only for us to learn that Paslay may be one who broke this woman. Simple, honest lyrics that tell a heartbreaking story, and Eric Paslay sings the song with a voice that perfectly compliments the material. A great modern representation of country music. Full review of Eric Paslay here.
  • Walk Alone” by Moot Davis – An uptempo song about getting over a relationship. A fun, upbeat country melody, and Davis’ voice is nothing short of fantastic. We have no official review for the song or album, but both have been featured on Country Perspective’s midyear “Best Of” lists.
  • River Rising” by Lucette – A more subdued track, and one of the best from the brilliant Black is the Color. Lucette’s lyrics are full of mystery and require careful listen to grasp the story. I think this is a song about dying due to this line, “so let the river carry me home.” Lucette’s vocals are beautiful here. Full review of Black is the Color here.
  • Coping Mechanism” by Shovels & Rope – This song is about finding a better way to cope with a broken heart. Cary Ann’s vocal delivery is powerful here, with Michael harmonizing perfectly behind her. The instrumentation is upbeat, intense, and fits like a glove behind the vocals. As Josh wrote, “this song has the total package.” Full review of Swimmin’ Time here.
  • West Texas Rain” by Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen might just have the best modern country sound. This song about recognizing one’s imperfections is well written with a roaring vocal delivery from Bowen to cap it off. Full review of Wade Bowen here.
  • There’s No Country Here” by Melody Williamson – In the year of anti bro-country, YouTube sensation Melody Williamson has the best of them all. Written as heartbreaking disappointment over the direction of modern country, Melody’s voice captures the emotions with every note. A song of the year dark horse if there ever was one.
  • This Side of Heaven” by The Swon Brothers – I think we were all shocked that this duo from The Voice has a song like this. A great offering off an otherwise rocky, back and forth album. Life can be tough, but we have heaven to look forward to. A wonderful, heartbreaking song of faith. And let’s not forget Carrie Underwood’s harmonies that only help this song soar. Full review of The Swon Brothers here.
  • Here On Earth” by Dierks Bentley – Cowritten by Bentley, and we have to imagine this song is an expression of his confusion and hurt in response to his father’s passing. This song captures the thoughts most have after a loss like that, and still keeps hope alive within life’s darkest moments.

That’s far from the end of possibilities, but we had to cap our selections at some point. Please share your thoughts and help us decide what to crown as the best country song of 2014. This is one of the hardest categories to choose as many of them have a legitimate argument to be chosen, so your comments and votes will definitely help. If you haven’t already, check out the rest of our nominations for our awards: best male and female singers, best duo or group, best and worst albums, and worst song of 2014.

 

Top Ten Country Songs – June 2014

(Only songs released in the month of June are eligible)

Back in May I said it would be unlikely for June to top it. And to my surprise June end up being even better than May. What made June even better was the amount of variety that came out in country music, while May was good on the strength of two artists (Sturgill Simpson and Matt Woods). June is clearly the month of the ladies, as four different female artists had songs make the list. Also I want to point out a rule I failed to mention on the May post. An artist is limited to only three songs making the list, which allows for more variety and less monotony. So without further ado let’s breakdown Country Perspective’s Top Ten Country Songs of June 2014.

First Aid Kit’s new album Stay Gold was the top country album in June (and one of the best all year), so naturally a song from it takes the top spot along with three of the top five. “Cedar Lane” stood out as the best on Stay Gold and the month of June because I found it to be the most dynamic, complex and most put together song. Lee Ann Womack’s “The Way I’m Livin'” is a close second place and was the song I thought would be the runaway best song of June until I heard First Aid Kit. Womack though is still one of the few to get a 10/10 rating on Country Perspective. Third is First Aid Kit’s “Heaven Knows,” which is just an upbeat song you can’t stop listening to. Next is Rich O’Toole’s “I Thank God,” from his great new album Jaded. The raw emotion and passion by O’Toole is definitely felt here. Rounding out the top five is yet again First Aid Kit with “My Silver Lining.”

Sixth is Kacey Musgraves’ “The Trailer Song,” which is one of the funniest songs in 2014. Who hasn’t had a nosy neighbor or person in their life they just want to tell off? This is followed by two more O’Toole songs, “Uncle Hank” and “Jaded.” I’m afraid O’Toole’s new album is being overlooked, but it shouldn’t be because it’s one of the top ten country albums released in 2014. “Uncle Hank” is a fun drinking song and “Jaded” takes a good look at difficult breakups and relationships. Next is a song from the most shocking country album of 2014, Lucy Hale’s “My Little Black Wedding Dress” from Road Between. This was the best song from a surprisingly solid album. Rounding out Country Perspective’s Top Ten Country Songs of June 2014 is another song from Hale’s album, “Feels Like Home.”

There were a few songs that missed the cut that I enjoyed and I could have easily stretched this list to the top 15. June was a great month for country music. But I think July is going to be even better because there are four potentially great albums coming out in early July. You will be seeing reviews for all four quite soon. Feel free to weigh in on the comments and let me know if there were any other great songs that deserve mentioning.

Country Perspective’s Weekly Review Roundup: June 16 – June 21

In case you missed any of Country Perspective’s review from the past week, you can catch up right here. Take a look at the music we looked at this past week:

Single Review: Lee Ann Womack’s “The Way I’m Livin'”Grade: 10/10

Single Review: Craig Moritz’s “Ready To Roll”Grade: 8/10

Single Review: Kacey Musgraves’ “The Trailer Song”Grade: 9/10

Album Review: Rich O’Toole’s JadedGrade: 8.5/10

If you have any suggestions on what I should review next or any suggestions for the site, let me know in the comments section below. You can also follow me on Twitter @realcountryview  and send suggestions to me on there. I’m hoping for another great week of music and if not, we’ll at least have fun tearing apart the bad music. Country Perspective will also present what it believes to be the worst country songs and albums of 2014. You don’t want to miss those posts.

Have a great Sunday!

The Best Country Songs of 2014 (So Far)

After presenting the best country albums of 2014, Country Perspective will now present what it believes to be the best country songs of 2014. This list is going to be much longer because it’s easier to make one great song than one great album. And there have been a lot of great songs from a variety of artists. From mainstream Nashville to Red Dirt Texas to the independent country scene, there’s been a great deal of country music to wet the listeners’ appetites. Country Perspective will name it’s Song of the Year at the end of 2014 and I have a feeling there’s going to be stiff competition. And we’re only halfway through 2014. So without further ado, let’s look at the best country songs of 2014 (not listed in any particular order).

Moot Davis“Midnight Train” & “Walk Alone”

Two songs I easily fell in love with and able to play over and over. Davis is one of the most underrated in country music today.

Matt Woods“With Love From Brushy Mountain,” “Ain’t No Living” & “Liberty Bell” (Side note: “Deadman’s Blues is not eligible because it was released in 2013)

A great album full of a lot of good music. Woods has a bright future ahead.

Sunny Sweeney“Bad Girl Phase”

A country song with attitude. More female artists that sing songs like this, please.

Melody Williamson“There’s No Country Here”

The best country protest song of the year. I hope to hear more from Williamson.

Sturgill Simpson“Turtles All The Way Down,” “Living the Dream,” & “Long White Line”

You know how much I love this guy. The best in country music right now.

Zac Brown Band“All Alright”

They continue to prove why they’re one of the best in mainstream country music. Dave Grohl rocks too.

Robert Ellis“Good Intentions” & “Only Lies”

While Ellis is a little bit more Americana than country, he immediately caught my eye with these two songs.

Dierks Bentley“I Hold On”

The best song released in mainstream country music this year. Great songwriting and emotion.

Alaina Blair“Tears Never Fell”

An up and comer who sounds experienced beyond her years. One to keep an eye on.

Dolly Parton“Home” & “Blue Smoke”

Will she ever stop making good music? I doubt it.

Mary Sarah & Ray Price“Heartaches By The Number”

The late Ray Price and the up-and-comer Mary Sarah shine together on this collaboration.

Johnny Cash“I’m Movin’ On” (feat. Waylon Jennings) & “She Used to Love Me A Lot”

The Man in Black is still #1 from the grave. Cash may be dead, but his music will live on forever.

Blackhawk“Brothers of the Southland”

A great comeback by the 90s country band. Can’t wait for the album.

Lee Ann Womack“The Way I’m Livin'”

Best song by a female country artist this year.

Ronnie Dunn“They Still Play Country Music in Texas”

This is the second best country protest song on the year. But it’s a tad hypocritical after listening to the rest of the album (more on that later).

Lee Brice“I Don’t Dance”

A non-bro country song with some feeling from a male mainstream country artist? Yeah I’m shocked too.

Kacey Musgraves – “The Trailer Song”

She does it again. The sass and attitude in this song make’s it so endearing.

Rich O’Toole – “Jaded” & “I Thank God”

You’ll hear my thoughts on this soon….

Now that Country Perspective has presented the best of country music in 2014, next week Country Perspective will take a look at the worst of country music in 2014. And there’s been a lot of bad music.