Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame

by: Sunny Sweeney

Sunny Sweeney's debut disc is a refreshing slice of traditional honky tonk enlivened with a dollop of rock & roll energy. Sweeney comes off as a small town girl, full of charm and sass who gets up to perform with a local band. The differences are that she has a real talent for singing and a knack for selecting tunes. Hailing from the musically fertile East Texas, Sweeney's singing contains a hard Texas twang, which gives her voice a true sense of character. The young singer displays a veteran's skill in choosing her tunes. There are a couple tracks from ace Nashville songsmith Jim Lauderdale, who also duets with her on the Lucinda Williams-ish Keith Sykes-penned "Lavender Blue." She flashes her grit on the rocking cover of Libbi Bosworth's "East Texas Pines" and a rapid-fire take on Tim Carroll's "If I Could." She also more than holds her own on two of the better-known covers, the old Lacy J. Dalton hit "16th Avenue" and Iris DeMent's lovely "Mama's Opry." The latter tune, as well as Audrey Auld's marvelously self-deprecating number "Next Big Nothing" match up well with Sweeney's small town Texas gal personality. Sweeney's own tunes also deal with her themes of small town life and relationship troubles. On the memorable "Ten Years Pass," she revisits her old hometown and her old flame. The title track concerns an old high school boyfriend who "is in the heartbreaker's hall of fame...as today's main honoree." Her third original, "Slow Swinging Western Tunes," another tale of love gone bad, recalls the songs of Kasey Chambers, one of her heroes. Sweeney, who helped to produce this disc, shows an ample amount of confidence and composure on her first full-length. She has a strong idea of who she is as a singer and performer, and her instincts are proven correct on this impressive effort. It's not just an easy pun to proclaim that Sunny Sweeney has a bright future. ~ Michael Berick

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