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14 Best Music Releases in 2014

From Neil Young and Bob Dylan to Prince and Dianne Reeves. See who else made our cut

  • Singer, Musician, Willie Nelson, Best Albums Of 2014
    David McClister

    Willie Nelson

    Band of Brothers (Sony/Legacy) Willie Nelson — the songwriter — returns to gratify fans with his first album to showcase mostly originals since 1996.

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  • Melissa Etheridge
    Lester Cohen

    Melissa Etheridge

    This Is M.E. (MLE/Universal) The guitar-wielding singer-songwriter stretches her musical range on this album while celebrating her recent marriage to Linda Wallem.

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  • Singer, Musician, Portrait, Piano, Smokey Robinson, Best Albums Of 2014
    Autumn de Wilde

    Smokey Robinson

    Smokey & Friends (Verve) The Motown legend demonstrates why he’s one of the most important American songwriters to emerge in the past 50 years.

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  • Annie Lennox, Singer, Portrait, Best Albums Of 2014
    Robert Sebree La Lennoxa Ltd

    Annie Lennox

    Nostalgia (Blue Note) The Scottish blue-eyed soul diva has recorded a winner that shows off her fancy for American jazz and blues.

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  • Bette Midler, Singer, Portrait, Best Albums Of 2014
    Warner Bros. Records

    Bette Midler

    It’s the Girls (Warner Bros.) The brassy legend gives a fun new meaning to “riot girl” as she pays tribute to various “girl singing groups” with songs such as “Be My Baby” and “Tell Him.”

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  • Dianne Reeves, Portrait, Singer, Jazz, Best Albums Of 2014
    Jerris Madison

    Dianne Reeves

    Beautiful Life (Concord) The heralded jazz singer offers spellbinding makeovers of pop and soul gems, including Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.” What could be more divine?

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  • A middle aged caucasian couple look at a map outdoors with text that reads keep life fun and your calendar full.

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  • Robert Plant, Singer, Musician, Best Albums Of 2014
    Ed Miles

    Robert Plant

    Lullaby and…the Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch) In a career-defining move, the former Led Zeppelin front man thought big — stylistically — and is now reaping his highest critical praise yet.

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  • Prince, Singer, Musician, Portrait, Best Albums Of 2014
    NPG/Warner Bros. Records


    Art Official Age and Plectrum Electrum (Warner Bros.) He still reigns supreme with these two gripping discs 30 years after his breakthrough film and soundtrack, Purple Rain.

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  • Neil Young, Singer, Musician, Portrait, Best Albums Of 2014
    Pegi Young

    Neil Young

    Storyone (Reprise) Epic themes concerning the environment and his divorce meet epic execution on this album, thanks to a sweeping 92-piece orchestra.

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  • Regina Carter, Musician, Jazz Violinist, Portrait, Best Albums Of 2014
    David Katzenstein

    Regina Carter

    Southern Comfort (Sony Masterworks) The jazz violin virtuoso takes us on a musical travelogue that traces her Alabama roots with a hearty mix of blues, gospel and bluegrass. 

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  • Musician Gregory Porter, Portrait, Best Albums Of 2014
    Shawn Peters

    Various Artists, Uncompromising Expression (Blue Note)

    Uncompromising Expression (Blue Note) One of the year’s most efficient and enjoyable surveys of the world’s most famous jazz imprint,  this five-disc anthology includes early innovators (Meade “Lux” Lewis) as well as modern-day hit makers (Gregory Porter, pictured).

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  • Bill Evans, Musicians, Portrait, Best Albums Of 2014
    Steve Schapiro

    Bill Evans

    The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961 (Prestige) Reissued on four 180-gram vinyl LPs, these legendary live sessions from the influential pianist captured him at the height of his mercurial career.

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  • Bob Dylan, Singer, Musician, Recording Studio, Guitar, Best Albums Of 2014
    Elliott Landy

    Bob Dylan and the Band

    The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Legacy/Columbia) The six-disc package contains 138 tracks from Dylan’s historic spring 1967 sessions in West Saugerties, N.Y. Every serious Bob Dylan fan has been feverishly waiting for this near-mythical set.

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