Best Albums of 2014 (So Far)
The race for best album of 2014 is just beginning. But even a few months in, 2014 has seen some stellar releases that deserve to be recognized.
Some of the best new albums this year have come from a few of country’s most popular hitmakers, including Dierks Bentley and everyone’s favorite outlaw, Eric Church. David Nail has released a strong contender with ‘I’m A Fire’ and Sara Evans is the first female vocalist of the year to give us something great to talk about. Rounding out the list is newcomer Jon Pardi with a sharp album for listeners who want their country music raw and rocking.
While it may be too early to crown the very best, it’s clear that 2014 will be full of a lot of contenders … and we’ve already seen quite a few.
The Best Albums of 2014 list is compiled using sales data, Taste of Country staff opinions and reader input. Check back monthly to see how your favorite albums are faring.
With his most personal record to date, Dierks Bentley 'rises' to a new level of vulnerability and raw truth. He's dropped the harder-hitting sound for songs layered with melodic arrangements and greater lyrical depth. Tracks like 'I Hold On' are quickly propelling this record to be one of 2014's top albums. Bentley's voice is stronger than ever and by embracing the imperfections that come with honesty the album is, in many senses, perfect.
'I'm A Fire'
David Nail's third studio album is not so much of a departure as a new chapter in a diverse discography. The album is more upbeat than other ventures, but still packs a heavy punch when it comes to depth and lyrical skill. Nail originals like 'The Secret' and his No. 1 hit 'Whatever She's Got' will have you listening on repeat, and a rich duet with Lee Ann Womack perfectly complements his traditional, but never stale, sound. 'I'm A Fire' is a powerful release for Nail and definitely a contender for one of the top albums this year.
'Slow Me Down'
'Slow Me Down' might be a paradoxical title for Sara Evans' seventh record release -- it's anything but slow! From the opening bars of the title track to the final notes of 'A Little Revival,' it's an album full of energy, confidence and just downright fun. True to form, the veteran country hitmaker gives a powerful vocal showcase, and duets with stars like Vince Gill and Gavin DeGraw highlight her stunning talent all the more. With one of the best releases of 2014, it's clear that Evans has found her sound and won't be slowing down anytime soon.
'Write You A Song'
Jon Pardi may be a newcomer to the country scene, but this singer has a voice that harkens back to some of the most iconic stars. That's what makes 'Write You A Song' one of the top albums of 2014 -- his sound on tracks like 'What I Can't Put Down' and 'Up All Night' is rowdy, rocking, raw country. Pardi isn't trying to trick you into liking him with ballads about love or sentimentality, he's just here to bring some straight-forward country rock that will have you picking up something you can't put down.
If you're looking for the best record to spin this spring, look no further than Eric Church's phenomenal 'The Outsiders.' True to his unconventional outlaw persona, Church's newest offering pulls no punches and delivers a crowd-pleasing effect that still feels a bit rebellious. 'Give Me Back My Hometown' is an anthemic ballad for anyone who's ever been proud to be where they're from, and the title track is nothing if not a great soundtrack for a barroom brawl. With such a compelling and original sound, 'The Outsiders' is not a record that will sway fringe fans towards Church ... but it is one that will make his outsiders proud.