Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 10 Country, Folk & Blues Albums



3. First Aid Kit
Stay Gold
(Columbia)

Released in 2014's summertime, sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg ventured to Omaha, Nebraska to record their thoughtful, upbeat third studio album, Stay Gold, with Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk fame. A bright, personal record that contemplates life on the road in an accessible way, Stay Gold reflects on relationships soured by distance, as on final track "A Long Time Ago."

From front to back, the album is a soundtrack that breathes meaning into quiet afternoon contemplation. The Söderberg sisters harmonize in beautiful form, hearkening back to simpler, more folk-y times without irony or melancholy. Songs like "Shattered & Hollow" demonstrate both their instrumental proficiency and songwriting chops as they sing, "Time, time is a fickle thing/ Let's see what it can bring."

Stay Gold is honest, reflective coming-of-age music, an excellent album that recalls the feeling of idyllic teenage summers. It's sweet, likeable folk music, perfect for a lazy Sunday or the open road, and some of the year's best. (Eric Zaworski)