Sunny Sweeney
Christina Feddersen

Album Review: Sunny Sweeney Triumphs with 'Trophy'

You probably don't want to get into an argument with Sunny Sweeney. The outspoken singer will make sure she gets the last word and she'll do it with a healthy dose of Texas-born wit.

Case in point, the title track to Sweeney's fourth studio album Trophy, out on March 10 via Thirty Tigers. In response to being called a "trophy wife" by her man's ex, Sweeney sings "Yeah he's got a trophy now for puttin' up with you."

You see what we mean.

"Trophy" feels like having a drink (or three) with your smartest, funniest friend at your favorite dive bar. There's gonna be some laughter and tears, but by the end you're just glad she shared her story with you. From the Thelma and Louise rowdiness of "Better Bad Idea" to the gut-wrenching album standout "Bottle By My Bed," the record is Sweeney's most authentic to date.

Sweeney released her debut album, Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame, in 2006. The singer has spent the last decade building a fan base through hard won honky-tonk nights and word of mouth. Now the word is finally out. For what will undoubtedly be her breakout album, Sweeney enlisted Grammy-nominated producer Dave Brainard (Brandy Clark, Jamey Johnson) and Nashville darling singer-songwriter Lori McKenna.

Sweeney co-wrote four of the album's songs with McKenna, including the aforementioned "Bottle By My Bed." The song captures the pain of wanting a child.

"I only call my husband baby 'cause I love the word," Sweeney sings. "I never wanted something so bad that it hurts."

She stays on the softer side with the gorgeous "Grow Old With Me," another standout Sweeney-McKenna penned song. The track celebrates the beauty of a longstanding relationship with a simple promise. "Grow old with me," she sings. "And I'll keep you young forever."

Sweeney co-wrote all but two songs on Trophy, and she knows how to pick a cover. She takes on the hillbilly-shuffle of "Pills" with the fervor of an Appalachian backwoods preacher. The song was penned by Sweeney's close friends and collaborators, Austin duo Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay. (Sweeney and Leigh recently teamed up for the tongue-in-cheek call for common ground, "But You Like Country Music.")

The Texas singer digs deep into the Lone Star songbook with the country-waltz classic "I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight."

Written by Chris Wall and recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1989, the song is an anthem for anyone who turns to country music as a cure-all or at least a damn good Band-Aid.

Outspoken, heartfelt and fearless, this collection of songs is exactly what country music needs right now. With Trophy, Sunny Sweeney finally takes home the big prize. And it feels like we all won.

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