The 26 Albums of 2014 You Probably Didn't But Really Should Hear

From Dolly Parton's 'Blue Smoke' to Frankie Ballard's 'Sunshine & Whiskey,' the stellar albums you may have missed in 2014

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Willie Watson, 'Folk Singer Vol. 1'
Courtesy of Acony Records10/26

Willie Watson, 'Folk Singer Vol. 1'

It's no surprise, pragmatically speaking, that Old Crow Medicine Show alum Willie Watson isn't selling scores of his debut solo LP. It's an album of traditional American folk songs, after all; some well-known (like his take on "Midnight Special" that's sung with both youthful cadence and a weathered high-mountain warble) and some dug from deep in the bottom soil. In other words, not exactly ringtone material. The charm of the record though is how, despite old-time melodies and dug-out coalminer blues, there's no mock-vintage production to get the point across — it's clean and void of unnecessary crackles that could make it an audio incarnation of a hipster tintype. No need, anyway: Watson's voice carries the weight of generations past, but on Folk Singer, it's still appropriate for the one we live in, right now.

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