Album Review: Sunny Sweeney – Married Alone

Can a song fix everything?

Songs are lifeboats for me. Music saves my soul and my sanity every damn day. Hitting the repeat button until a new song is inside your heart and soul is one of the joys of my life. Other people may let music wash over them, a background soundtrack to other more interesting pursuits. But for me, for most of us reading this blog I’m sure, music is the answer to a question we don’t even know how to ask.

Sunny Sweeney understands. On this new album she shows us how music can save your life, bring you comfort when life gets rough, maybe even bring someone back to life even for a moment. Music is the closest feeling we have to that kind of miracle.

When I first heard ‘A Song Can’t Fix Everything’, written with songwriting goddess Lori McKenna, I felt a catch in my throat that I hadn’t for a very long time. A melody and sound that feels instantly classic, which grips at the heart strings and speaks to every fibre of your soul and your life. Really a song can do so much, it’s hard to even comprehend.

Even if the rest of the album was mediocre that song alone would be worth the entry ticket. Luckily for us ‘Married Alone’ has much else to offer, with Sweeney steadfastly committed to classic rock and country songwriting aided by her gorgeous twangy voice.

Having been through a second divorce many of the songs here deal with the inevitability of loneliness and heartbreak such as the stunning title track featuring Vince Gill. Another standout is ‘How’d I End up Lonely Again’ where she calls herself a ‘broken record, broken soul’ a ‘trainwreck’ whose life has ended up down another ‘dead end’. Singing a sad song as well as this is a fucking art and Sunny does it so well it hurts in the right way.

As an artist who has committed to touring most of the year, Sunny also uses her songwriting to unapologetically reject the responsibilities of domestic life. Tie Me Up brims with the confidence of her choice, a caustic celebration of independence. Want You To Miss Me is a rocking little revenge song where she’s happily single, wishing only to ‘haunt’ her ex.

The more loud and barnstorming songs like ‘All I Don’t Need’ and ‘Leaving is My Middle Name’ are somewhat weaker but offer an interesting contrast to the ballads, sounding like they’ve been written in some bustling honky tonk somewhere out on the highway.

The album ends with another song cowritten with Lori McKenna ‘Still Here’ which takes us to the middle of the night, alone and restless in a marriage but still wanting things to work out. It also seems like a song about country music and the industry itself. ‘By now someone else would’ve disappeared but I’m still here,’ she admits, for better and worse. For her perseverance and grit alone, we should be grateful.

I know a song can’t fix everything…but I’m going to play it over and over until all the tears run dry. I’m going to give it one hell of a try.

I suggest you put this album on repeat and do the same.


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