Popular culture is littered with references to the drifter, the rambling man, the loner. Soul tormented by assorted demons, both real and imaginary, they never get attached to anyone and deal with their insecurity by show of bravado. These characters are nearly always men. Sunny Sweeney takes exception to that on her latest album, Married Alone, where most of the songs are from the perspective of a fiercely independent woman, albeit not without her own troubles.
The record opens with Tie Me Up, a honky-tonk anthem with a Waylon beat. You can practically see Sweeney sneer, “you can tie me up, but baby you can’t tie me down.” Someday You’ll Call My Name is an uptempo co-write with Brennan Leigh where the pair imagine when a former lover faces regret and comes back “banging on my door and on my windowpane.” In a similar vein, but with a rock and roll accent, is Want You To Miss Me where Sweeney decides, “I don’t want you back, I just want you to miss me.” Leaving Is My Middle Name is a bluesy warning that the woman is the kind his mother warned him about.
A few of the songs have a gentler message. The title track, with co-vocalist Vince Gill, is the story of a relationship that’s at its end, but somehow not ended. Still Here is a twangy number about perseverance and keeping promises. Fool Like Me is a slower ode to regret where Sweeney notes it “took a woman to keep you, but to lose you took a fool like me.”
With influences from Neil Young to Fleetwood Mac to Waylon Jennings, Sunny Sweeney put together a collection of songs written over the years where there’s a little different mix of genres in each one, mostly country, folk, and rock and roll. What holds them all together is a feminine machismo perspective from the characters in the songs. Combine all those elements and it makes Married Alone a compelling record to listen to repeatedly just to absorb more of the story.
About the author: I’ve actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I’ve seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.