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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Garth Brooks, 'Man Against Machine'
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30/40

30. Garth Brooks, 'Man Against Machine'

Garth Brooks changed the path of country music 25 years ago. While no one is looking to the musical juggernaut to do that now, Man Against Machine — his first studio album in 13 years — may provide some course correction that the genre sorely needs, serving up songs with both hooks and heart. Brooks' unerring ability to convincingly sell a song remains undiminished, whether on the flinty "Cold Like That," the chugging "Midnight Train" or the sentimental "Mom." M.N.

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