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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Lee Brice, 'I Don't Dance'
40
24/40

24. Lee Brice, 'I Don't Dance'

Though its sweetly sentimental title track (a wedding gift to his bride) is the song being recognized in awards show circles, this is the album that will prevent Lee Brice from being pigeonholed as a balladeer. For his third studio release, the South Carolina native dabbles in rock anthems, R&B grooves, country soul, blues and, for the first time, producing. From his seat behind the board, Brice takes sonic leaps that range from looped vocals on the playful "Girls in Bikinis" to a live recording of the nostalgic "Panama City," with all musicians gathered around a piano. At the mic, his malleable voice soars; and to balance the ballad storyline spectrum, he beautifies a booty call with the slow number "Somebody's Been Drinking." B.D.

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