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Sunny Sweeney

Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame – 2006 (Independent)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Sunny Sweeney

Sunny Sweeney's signature saying is "get your honky-tonk on," and that's exactly what she does on her debut. You'd never know that Sweeney is a newcomer from listening to it; she sounds for all the world like she arrived fully formed, as accomplished and confident as any veteran.

It doesn't hurt that she's chosen strong material to buttress her own fine originals - a couple of Jim Lauderdale tunes (including "Please Be San Antone," which she simply nails), Libbi Bosworth's "East Texas Pines" (her take following The Hollisters' smoking version), a hard-shuffling rendition of Audrey Auld's "Next Big Nothing" and Tim Carroll's "If I Could," which she turns into a honky-tonk burner. And it helps, too, that she has a stellar band, with the likes of Tommy Detamore, Bobby Flores and the legendary Caspar Rawls backing her and guests, including Lauderdale (singing harmony on Keith Sykes' "Lavender Blue") and harp-meister Ted Roddy, lending a hand.

But none of that would matter one whit without Sweeney's singing, full of sass and syrupy twang, at the center of things. Hardcore honky-tonk music doesn't get much better than this.