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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First Aid Kit, 'Stay Gold'

28. First Aid Kit, 'Stay Gold'

Swedish duo Johanna and Klara Söderberg have always had amazing pipes, but on their third album, Stay Gold, they beam with a new sense of confidence and conviction. The duo writes with more vulnerability, too ("I don't know if I'm scared of dying but I'm scared of living too fast, too slow"); and the production by Bright Eyes' Mike Mogis (featuring a 13-piece orchestra) adds lush arrangements on several tracks without overpowering the sisters' soaring voices. A shimmering record that lives on the boundaries of country, folk, pop and indie rock. D.R.

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