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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Lucinda Williams, 'Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone'
40
37/40

37. Lucinda Williams, 'Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone'

The ever-more-prolific singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams collects 20 songs on two discs to launch her own label, though she's not always traveling alone: The homiletic lyrics of "Compassion" spring from a poem of her father's (as does the album's title), she goes out on a nearly 10-minute stroll through J.J. Cale's "Magnolia" and Jakob Dylan stops by to harmonize. Whether Williams is waxing wrathful or lustful or introspective, what pulls you in are the ever-expanding nuances of a drawl that's never been more humid and sensuous, shying away from consonants like the singer owes them money. K.H.

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