Contrary to the bright disposition of her name, country singer Sunny Sweeney is a woman with dark impulses and more than a few skeletons in her closet on her second album, Concrete. The songs chronicle wrecked relationships from all sides, with Sweeney usually coming out on the losing end. On the standout tearjerker “From A Table Away,” a gently stinging guitar line hits like a knife in the back as Sweeney spies on her man reconciling with his wife. On the equally affecting ballad “Amy,” Sweeney takes on the “Jolene” role from Dolly Parton’s “other woman” classic, telling an inattentive wife that she’s the one to blame for her straying husband.
“She’s a firecracker, an instigator, a troublemaker, you either love her or you hate her,” Sweeney sings on “The Old Me,” but even if she’s not always noble in her songs, Sweeney is always a warm, likeable presence. A far slicker and poppier effort than her 2007 debut Heartbreaker’s Hall Of Fame, Concrete doesn’t water down Sweeney’s toughness or the edginess of her feisty, nasally twang. Even when she courts MOR pop country on “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving,” she sings it like an actual person who’s in the process of trying to piece her life back together.