Despite all the horrible bro-country hogging up the mainstream country music charts, 2014 has still been a fairly good year for lovers of country music. However, you needed to look for it because Nashville didn’t give many of the better releases the time of date.
The Outsiders by Eric Church was this year’s best mainstream release. Yes, Church also appeals to the country partying crowd. However, this alum featured some of his best songwriting and – with the exception of its horrible title track – this was a consistently good release – perhaps his best to date.
Although The Way I’m Livin’ by Lee Ann Womack didn’t make her as popular again as “I Hope You Dance,” it did features some fine performances of songs that presented the conflicted personality. It was the sound of someone balancing that straight line between heaven and hell, which is what the best country music has always done.
When sang about both conjugal visits and the hard lives of prison guards on the group’s Remedy album, it was clear this was a fairly expansive project. This is one to pick up right now, in case you missed it when first released.
The River & The Thread by Rosanne Cash found the singer/songwriter facing her Southern roots, in the most delightful ways.
Lucinda Williams release Old Crow Medicine Showd the epic Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone in 2014. It was so refreshing to hear a woman grappling with mature adult issues.
Terms Of My Surrender from John Hiatt was more of the singer/songwriter’s subtle approach to the ups and downs of modern life.
Sturgill Simpson was likely ignored by Zac Brown fans when he opened for the popular jam band last year. But hopefully at least a few picked up Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, which is most excellent.
Parker Millsap came from a Pentecostal upbringing, and you can hear some of that spiritual conflict running through his self-titled album.
Carter Girl by Carlene Carter is this woman from the most famous country music family singing some of her family favorites.
Robert Ellis gave us The Lights From The Chemical Plant. Although it came early in the year, it still deserves recognition for its greatness.
If you’re underwhelmed by what’s on the charts these days, be not dismayed. The stuff that lands there usually appeals to the lowest common denominator, and you’re much better than that. Go to iTunes, Amazon.com or whatever music outlet provides your new sounds and pick up each of these albums. It will give you great joy and restore your love of country music, if you may have lost it.
Yes, there is good stuff on the radio. Miranda Lambert released another great album, and Brad Paisley’s – though it could have been better – still showed many of his strong points. Just don’t buy the latest Florida Georgia Line, whatever you do. That’s not country music. It’s not even good rock music. It’s just all around bad. Instead, focus on the 10 aforementioned gems.