Texas gal Sunny Sweeney brings some old school influences to the contemporary country landscape—a brash, Loretta Lynn kind of tough-mindedness, a sassy sense of humor a la Dolly Parton and June Carter Cash, and a big honky-tonk heart with a barroom beat. Her second album, Concrete, has had an impact as heavy as its namesake, hurtling the Houston heatseeker into the Country Top 10 and turning out three hit singles: "From a Table Away," "Staying's Worse Than Leaving," and most recently, the raunchy roadhouse burner "Drink Myself Single."
Sweeney's roots in classic country run deep—not only does she know more Merle Haggard songs by heart than The Hag himself probably does at this point, she also sports a "Mama Tried" tattoo on her wrist, after the Merle chestnut of the same name. Her guitar—which is weathered enough to make Willie Nelson jealous—proudly bears the autographs of Haggard, Lynn and other legendary country mavericks. But it's Sweeney's songs that show her influences most plainly, while still sounding of-the-moment enough to make modern-day Music City (and the rest of America) stand up and take notice. – Jim Allen
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