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On the Beat: Best of Country 2014

On the Beat: Best of Country 2014

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Each year I’m one of about 100 who vote in Nashville Scene’s annual Country Music Critics Poll, selecting not only my top country albums, songs and reissues for the year, but the “best” in a number of categories, including an “overall act” that I take to be something like “entertainer of the year.”

As usual, my voting trends away from mainstream Nashville -- there’s not much “bro country” on my ballot -- and toward some more “alternative” acts like, this year, Sturgill Simpson, Lucinda Williams, Old 97's and Cory Branan.

That said, here’s my Country Music Critics Poll ballot for 2014:

Top 10 country albums

1.”Metamodern Sounds in Country Music," Sturgill Simpson

2.”Platinum," Miranda Lambert

3. “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone,” Lucinda Williams

4. “The Way I’m Livin’," Lee Ann Womack

5. “American Middle Class,” Angaleena Presley

6. “The River and the Thread,” Rosanne Cash

7.”Band of Brothers,” Willie Nelson

8. “Songs,” John Fullbright

9. “Most Messed Up,” Old 97's

10. “The Outsiders,” Eric Church

Top 10 country singles

1. Maddie and Tae,”Girl in a Country Song”

2. Old 97’s, “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive”

3. Lee Ann Womack, “The Way I’m Livin’”

4. Angaleena Presley, “All I Ever Wanted”

5. Billy Joe Shaver feat. Willie Nelson, “Hard to Be an Outlaw”

6. Jake Owen, “Beachin’”

7. Cory Branan feat. Craig Finn, “No Hit Wonder”

8. Miranda Lambert feat. Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”

9. Sam Hunt, “Break Up in a Small Town”

10. Lydia Loveless, “Really Want to See You”

Top five reissues

1. Bob Dylan and the Band, “The Basement Tapes: Complete”

2. Lucinda Williams, “Lucinda Williams”

3. Hank Williams, “The Garden Spot Program”

4. Uncle Tupelo, “No Depression”

5. Johnny Cash,”Out Among the Stars”

Three best male vocalists

1. Sturgill Simpson

2. Rhett Miller

3. Eric Church

Three best female vocalists

1. Miranda Lambert

2. Lee Ann Womack

3. Angaleena Presley

Three best live acts

1. Eric Church

2. Jake Owen

3. Old 97's

Three best songwriters

1. Angaleena Presley

2. Lucinda Williams

3. Cory Branan

Three best duos, trios or groups

1. Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie

2. Old 97's

3. Zac Brown Band

Three best new acts

1. Jon Pardi

2. Cory Branan

3. Girls Guns and Glory

Three best overall acts

1. Miranda Lambert

2. Sturgill Simpson

3. Willie Nelson

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.


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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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