Album Review: Sunny Sweeney - “Trophy”

Yet another under-the-radar artist delivers a strong follow-up to 2014’s Provoked.

After scoring a couple of hits with her sophomore album Concrete, Sunny Sweeney scored indie artist "cred" with her third album Provoked in 2014 via her own label Aunt Daddy Records and distribution from Thirty Tigers. Working with Dave Brainard (Jerrod Niemann, Brandy Clark, Ray Scott) in the producer’s chair, Sunny’s fourth album Trophy has just been released and it’s more of what we’ve come to love from one of the better artists to have broken out in country music over the past decade.

Returning to Texas has worked quite well for Sunny as she’s free to be herself as she’s become a star on that state’s unique radio charts all the while being able to work nationally thanks to her success six years ago with Concrete and the Top 10 hit “From A Table Away.” Her ability to connect comes through with “Nothing Wrong With Texas,” a fiddle and harmonica-filled song co-written with Grammy winner Lori McKenna, a frequent collaborator on this project with four of the songs on this project. Sunny co-wrote 8 of them and “Trophy,” the title track, is a pointed and clever tune, both musically and lyrically while Heather Morgan co-write “Why People Change” is a moody rocker and opener “Pass The Pain,” with its steel guitars and honky tonk piano, showcases Sunny’s strong voice and affinity for classic country songwriting and song structure.

There are a couple of strong ballads on the project in addition to “Pass The Pain.” One of them, “Bottle By My Bed” finds Sunny Sweeney wondering if she’ll ever become a mother. This is a song shows that ‘career women’ still feel the pull to be called “mommy” and have a child of their own and after hearing the heart-felt song, I’m sure Sunny will make one wonderful momma to some special child someday. Another strong ballad is “Grow Old With Me,” a song that is sweet with the lyric of “Grow old with me, I’ll keep you young forever” while closer “Unsaid” may be the most-special song on the record. Written after a friend committed suicide, “Unsaid” is the most raw moment on the record, one where she emotes every nuanced lyric of pain and regret and things left unsaid and channels it into a show-stopping closer of Trophy, her show-stopping album.