40 Best Country Albums of 2014

The greatest statements from the year's outsiders, small town heroes and American middle class

The Secret Sisters, 'Put Your Needle Down'
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40. The Secret Sisters, 'Put Your Needle Down'

Muscle Shoals, Alabama-bred siblings Laura and Lydia Rogers follow their ravishingly retro debut with a second album that combines their penchant for throwback country (think way back, to Forties-era Grand Ole Opry) with contemporary flair. Put Your Needle Down spices things up for the harmony-rich duo, as they tackle more grown-up material, both lyrically and sonically. "Iuka," which they co-wrote with Dan Wilson (Dixie Chicks, Adele), is a Southern gothic murder ballad and "Rattle My Bones" is the rockabilly equivalent of Adele's "Rumor Has It." But perhaps the key track on Needle was one Bob Dylan began writing before the Rogers sisters were even born — they were given his half-completed "Dirty Lie" and finished its clever, kiss-off lyrics with a smoky jazz club-vibe. B.D.