12 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On her debut release, Sunny Sweeney doesn’t push hard in typical country diva fashion. What she does do is sing with conviction, savvy and style, making the most of an excellent batch of tunes. Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame may be the most impressive neo-traditional country release by a female artist since the Dixie Chicks’ early albums. East Texas native Sweeney is well versed in hardcore honkytonk angst — songs like “Refresh My Memory” and “Lavender Blue” indulge in post-breakup regret with just the right tinge of masochism. She’s tough enough to laugh at her dreams of stardom (the wry “Next Big Nothing”), and when Sunny cops a sassy attitude in “East Texas Pines” and the title number, she’s undeniable. Reaching back to the ‘80s, she offers a soulful reading of Thom Schuyler’s ode to the struggling musician, “16th Avenue.” Just as successful is her version of Iris DeMent’s unabashedly sentimental “Mama’s Opry.” Sweeney benefits from sympathetic backup on these tracks, particularly by veteran guitar picker Tommy Detamore. All told, Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame is a galvanizing first effort by a singer with potential as big as the Lone Star State.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On her debut release, Sunny Sweeney doesn’t push hard in typical country diva fashion. What she does do is sing with conviction, savvy and style, making the most of an excellent batch of tunes. Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame may be the most impressive neo-traditional country release by a female artist since the Dixie Chicks’ early albums. East Texas native Sweeney is well versed in hardcore honkytonk angst — songs like “Refresh My Memory” and “Lavender Blue” indulge in post-breakup regret with just the right tinge of masochism. She’s tough enough to laugh at her dreams of stardom (the wry “Next Big Nothing”), and when Sunny cops a sassy attitude in “East Texas Pines” and the title number, she’s undeniable. Reaching back to the ‘80s, she offers a soulful reading of Thom Schuyler’s ode to the struggling musician, “16th Avenue.” Just as successful is her version of Iris DeMent’s unabashedly sentimental “Mama’s Opry.” Sweeney benefits from sympathetic backup on these tracks, particularly by veteran guitar picker Tommy Detamore. All told, Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame is a galvanizing first effort by a singer with potential as big as the Lone Star State.

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