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'
40
28/40

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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