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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Lera Lynn, 'The Avenues'

33. Lera Lynn, 'The Avenues'

It takes a truly able voice to drop a lead single with barely any words in the chorus, but Lera Lynn — with her dreamlike wordplay, quirky metaphors and fantastically sultry tone — can do just that. "La Di Da," she sings on the track of the same title, tapping the syllables with her tongue and layering unspoken words through pure inflection. And what a voice it is — never showboating those earthy pipes just for the sake of it, she wanders through a firm but delicate sophomore album that explores the fragile threads of love, meeting somewhere in the country plains between the Twin Peaks world of Chris Isaak and Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going." M.M.

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