[18 February 2007]
Sunny Sweeney is the real country deal. With the voice of an east Texas honky-tonk angel that evokes the sassy confidence of Loretta Lynn, and accompanied by a backporch symphony of pedal steel, dobro, mandolin and fiddle, this fledgling (she only picked up a guitar three years ago) singer/songwriter is nothing if not impressive on her debut outing. Embracing the sounds of traditional country yet giving them a contemporary edge, Sweeney cuts loose on a wide range of covers including Jim Lauderdale’s “Refresh My Memory”, Iris DeMent’s “Mama’s Opry”, and a rowdy version of Galveston gal Libbi Bosworth’s “East Texas Pines”. What really makes you sit up and take notice, though, is the strength of the three original tunes on offer. There’s the eloquent honky-tonk account of heading home for a high school reunion, “Ten Years Pass”, the country-blues of the title track and the heartfelt “Slow Swinging Western Tunes”. Perhaps on her next album, Sweeney will be a little more generous with her own material and shed some of the covers for a more personal take on the Lone Star state. Whatever happens, Sweeney is definitely an artist to keep a very close eye on.