SUNNY SWEENEY

TROPHY

This fourth album by Houston songwriter Sunny Sweeney, is a ten-song ode to old-school country charms. And while Sweeney is deeply entrenched in tradition (“I feel like Hank Williams tonight,” goes the chorus to one of the album’s most memorable songs – and she’s damn sure proud of it), Sweeney puts in the work to make these songs sound fresh and distinctive. It’s not just Hank Williams she feels like: There’s a vast lineage of sonic references throughout Trophy, from Willie Nelson’s mournful soul in album opener ‘Pass the Pain’ to Sweeney’s tour mate Miranda Lambert in the rollicking ‘Better Bad Idea.’ Throughout the album, it’s Sweeney’s particular perspective that elevates these songs from pitch-perfect tributes to potential standards in her own songbook.

Amid all the country signifiers – the small towns, the bars, the bottles by the bed – Sweeney approaches her subjects with an insider’s perspective. She does not judge her characters; she places herself among them. It’s how ‘There’s Nothing Wrong With Texas’,  a cowrite with Lori McKenna about the comforts of returning to your hometown, can sit comfortably next to a track about the perils of drug addiction. But Sweeney remains the star – she triumphs effortlessly as “watching the evening news with a couple of beers,” one of many unlikely images she turns to poetry.