With her silver tongue a little less in-cheek, Sunny Sweeney sauntered her way into 2017 with a new album under her foam-dome. She called it Trophy, which is fitting because it landed on many a top-ten list in December, including my own. Sunny then proceeded to spend the year relentlessly touring with a group of bearded boys throughout the country, showing everyone that girls like to have fun too, and you don’t have to have facial hair to be an outlaw. One Year Later we look at the aptly named album, and why it was one of the best albums of 2017, and perhaps the top dog.
Welcome to the second installment of One Year Later, my way of bringing great albums back into the conversation a year after release. If an album is really good, it’s going to be discussed for years to come, not just for the few months after release. A year ago this week we were blessed with the tour de force named Trophy, and in celebration of the anniversary of its release, I am going to attempt to put into words what I found so emotionally magnetic about this album.
Compared to past albums, on first listen this one might feel somewhat tame. While it does evoke the maturity that comes with age, it doesn’t give up on finding ways to have a good time. I’ve been a fan for a long time and love all her previous work, but this one really hit me more than previous albums. Perhaps it’s a timing thing; I’m pretty close in age to this young lady and I now find more value in the everyday, think about the future, and wistfully check the rear-view. This album does all-of-the-above, but isn’t afraid to have a little fun while doing it.
This album signals a bit of a regression to some folks, a step further away from the big machine… I am not one of those people. This album is strong, profound, and transparent; it’s a mature career best by a talented woman who chooses to make a living entertaining us, I couldn’t love it more.
Most reviews I have read speak to the honesty mustered up to bring us “Bottle by My Bed”, and I won’t argue that. My brother and sister-in-law recently brought home my first niece, an adopted 3-day-old little girl, so I can appreciate that song as much as anyone and I choked up the first time I heard it. That said, I’m afraid it overshadowed the rest of the album a bit due to all its praise, and there are so many great songs here that I hate to see any of them overlooked.
“Nothing Wrong With Texas” is a bit of a metaphor for Sunny’s music journey, and a great home-town proud song for anyone, even myself 2000 miles northeast in not-so-Sunny New England right now. I think we can all relate a bit to “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight”; we all have that certain way we grieve, mine tends to be remarkably similar to this song. To me “Hank Williams”, with its minimal instrumentals, really does a great job of showing the vocal inflections that I really love in Sunny’s voice. “Grow Old With Me” is a beautiful love song that I truly hope to emulate in real-life with my lovely wife of nearly 8 years.
Just to be sure she didn’t keep things too serious, she threw us “Trophy”, classic Sunny through and through. Perhaps not as loud and proud as some of her previous songs, it still has the same fun with a bit of bite, while somehow being a love song too. “Better Bad Idea” is another that stays true to the Sunny we know and love so well; fun-loving, upbeat, and excitable.
Lastly, we are left with the perfect finale in “Unsaid”; this song is powerful, sad, and pragmatic. Up to this point I have not mentioned how much I love the production and instrumentals of this album, and this song really showcases those two things best; that gong of the bass drum, the empty background as we hear fingers changing cords on steel strings, and that haunting violin. The rest of the album is great, but the stripped down layout of this song really gives me chills as Sunny belts in near-acapella.
There you have it; one year later Trophy is still poignant, I still feel every song deep down, and I really do think it was the best album I heard in 2017. The sandal-clad Texas sweetheart really tore the walls down for Trophy, and I can only hope she has several more in the tank for years to come.
Sunny is on the road this year, as always, and I highly suggest you check her out.
Trophy is available for digital download everywhere music is sold, and can be purchased in physical form here (Along with lots of fun merch)