40 Best Country Albums of 2014

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

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Brad Paisley, 'Moonshine in the Trunk'

31. Brad Paisley, 'Moonshine in the Trunk'

If they weren't attached one of the most bankable stars in country music, songs like "Gone Green," a bluegrass ode to an Al Gore lifestyle with Emmylou Harris guest vocals, would never see the light of day in any mainstream arena. But Paisley has the sense of humor to pull it off, pairing fiddles with a story of redneck recycling, shaping Moonshine in the Trunk into something playful, touching and even a little weird. One moment, he's poking fun at bro country; the next, digging deep on ballads like "Shattered Glass"; and then ushering in power anthems with Kings of Leon-esque choir-chants on "Perfect Storm." Only Paisley could get away with something so charmingly schizophrenic, sealing the package with fiery guitar solos. M.M.

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