Artist: Sunny Sweeney
Label: Aunt Daddy Records
I’ve got a stone-cold country album this week. Trophy is Sunny Sweeney’s 2017 release, and it was an absolute delight to break down. Besides having one of the most unique voices I’ve heard in a long time, Sweeney’s songwriting ability is incredible, and she’s brought some incredible production–by Grammy Award Nominee Dave Brainard–to pull it all together. Trophy opens the way I wish every country album did; with a sickly smooth, emotional steel riff. You’re already drawn in before you even realize what hit you.
In an industry so heavily dominated by men both on the charts and in the writer’s room, Sweeney managed to break the mold with this one. Having not only a background in music, she also has some background in improv as well as stand-up comedy making for some very creative, witty lyrics. Nearly every song on the album was penned with other women which has resulted in one of the most relatable records I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.
If you’re still not sure just who Sunny Sweeney is, this might ring a bell. Her first charting single “From A Table Away,” debuted at No. 58 on the U.S Billboard Hot Country Songs and proceeded to enter the top ten. Still not sure? She’s also the mastermind behind “Drink Myself Single.”
Trophy is raw. It tells the story of every woman. In “Pass the Pain” she’s hurting and turning to her vices. This song was written when Sunny was going through her divorce. “Better Bad Idea” brings out her wild side, while “Nothing Wrong With Texas,” co-written by Lori McKenna, unearths a powerful feeling of nostalgia. It makes you think of home, no matter where home might be.
“Pills,” written by Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay, brings back the temptation of an old habit. “Bottle by my Bed,” also co-written with McKenna, narrates Sunny’s experience with miscarriage and infertility, something a lot of women struggle with, but that is rarely brought to light. I tip my hat to you for opening up a conversation with this one, Sunny. “Some of the e-mails and Facebook messages that I’ve gotten are life-changing for me. It’s them getting it off their chest, but then it’s also me going, ‘Well, shit, I’m not by myself,'” she told Rolling Stone in a recent interview.
Though upbeat, “Why People Change” is startlingly heartbreaking. It’s the question that always seems to find its way onto the minds of both halves of failed relationships. “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight,” written by Chris Wall, is Sweeney’s favorite country song of all time. She decided to sing it the way it was written, from the male’s perspective. “Grow Old With Me” is a tender love song (Sweeney and McKenna) for Sweeney’s husband which is hilariously juxtaposed with “Trophy” (Sweeney and McKenna), a witty slam against her husband’s ex-wife. The album gently comes to a close with “Unsaid,” a song inspired by the loss of a friend who had committed suicide. This album is the circle of life. It highlights the highs and lows and narrates both the hurtin’ and the healin’ that we all go through.
Favourite songs: Pass the Pain, Nothing Wrong with Texas, Bottle by My Bed, I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight