Album Reviews

Sunny Sweeney

Trophy

Artist:     Sunny Sweeney

Album:     Trophy

Label:     Thirty Tigers

Release Date:     03/10/2017

95

Opening an album with a drinking ballad called “Pass the Pain” takes guts. Safer to do it with a happy rocker. But this seriously real country album has plenty of compelling edges; and bare-naked, hearty confidence is just one of Sunny Sweeney’s many appeals. So, the only way to show her all off, right off the bat, is with a fantastic, lush, pedal-steeled weeper.

This beautiful lady from Texas who now lives in Music City writes real, meaningful songs, and she sings in a honey of a voice. But you can hear the toughness, too, as much as the vulnerability in it. Sweeney’s assembled a top-flight crew of players to support her for her fourth album in a ten-year stretch. Thus far anyway, it’s surely her Trophy. Second up is that expected first rocker, a jittery instant-classic about getting out there, or having some “Better Bad Idea” about how to be stupid. As one might expect with an album full of personal songs in this vein, several revolve around drinking, or worse. Worse is “Pills.” The Texas T driving beat makes you feel like you’re driving a long stretch of lonely plains highway. The lyrics meanwhile, convey a sad nightmare. “Bottle by My Head,” one of four excellently co-written with Lori McKenna, and in ways another drinking song, laments about not being a mother, the bottle actually a reference to a baby’s bottle. Happy-go-lucky and catchy-as-hell then combine in the rocking “Why People Change,” and the gorgeous “Grow Old with Me” calms with its words of true commitment. McKenna also had a hand in “Nothing Wrong with Texas,” the proud and hopeful statement about just being a real person in a real place. The American charm of that song alone offers hope for people, and country music, and solidifies this album as near-perfect.

Sweeney’s already made some waves, but with any measure of justice, and probably a lot of luck, Trophy will be recognized as the number one country album of the year.

—Tom Clarke

 

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