Sunny Sweeney

Releases: Trophy (2017), Provoked (2014), Concrete (2011), Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame (2007)
Years at MusicFest: 5

Sunny Sweeney is the party and the morning after. She’s the quip that makes you laugh and the truth that makes you cry, the devil that’s egging you on and the angel whispering that you aren’t alone. But those compelling contradictions aren’t what’s most interesting about Sweeney: it’s the depth and brazen authenticity she brings to the stage. Sweeney’s salty wisdom and Texas-hewn soprano have never sounded stronger than they do on Trophy, her newest album. Trophy is a breakthrough. The wit and honesty that have always defined her stone-cold country have blossomed into confessional, complex songwriting, still whiskey-drenched and honk-tonk-ready. Drugs, death, the ex-wife, drinking, devotion, and longing for a child: it’s all here, raw and real. With the success of artists like Margo Price, Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, and Miranda Lambert, it seems like the world is more open now than ever before to smart women singing smart country. It’s about time. Sweeney is a veteran of the trade, and has logged her miles the old-school way. A three-year residency at the Poodle Dog Lounge in Austin along with improv and stand-up comedy experience went a long way toward teaching her how to hold a room of cynical drunks in the palm of her hand. The mastery of holes in the wall, major label stint, and serious songwriting chops make Sweeney something of a rarity: an artist with barroom cred, mainstream validation, and songs meaty enough for listening rooms. Or, as Rolling Stone put it in September 2016: “Sweeney is one of the rare entertainers who can hold her own at CMA Fest as well as AmericanaFest.” And she certainly holds her own at The MusicFest.

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