If Miranda Lambert is the Crazy Ex Girlfriend, and Carrie Underwood is the All-American Girl, and Natalie Maines is Not Ready to Make Nice … what does that make Sunny Sweeney?
Depends on the song. Maybe she's the hellbent woman done wrong from Drink Myself Single ("I'm gonna kiss all the boys 'til I kiss your memory goodbye"). Maybe she's the remorseful other woman trying to explain her adulterous actions in Amy ("He needed love he said he never got from you"). Maybe she's the wizened wife on the brink of a breakup from Staying's Worse Than Leaving ("Both our hearts let go a long time ago").
Whoever Sweeney is, it's working. The spunky country cutie is winning rave reviews for her new sophomore album, Concrete, and buoyed by the top 10 single From a Table Away, she is well positioned to become country's next female sensation — which is funny, because to hear her tell it, she's just a feisty Texas gal who loves cheeseburgers, gossip mags, souvenir spoons, Luden's cough drops and the smell of cigarettes and gasoline.
Seriously, those are all facts. It's all in her official bio. Which Sweeney wrote herself.
On Friday, Sweeney will open for Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre in Tampa. Last week, we got her on the phone. Here are excerpts.
I'm sure you get compared to Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Jennifer Nettles, Natalie Maines. Does that bother you?
Actually, not a lot of people do the whole, "You remind me of …" thing. I've gotten a couple of people say that, but mostly, they say, "You're very unique. How do you feel about being so different?" I love being different. That's what I've done my whole life.
First time I heard From a Table Away, I didn't think traditional mainstream country. Does "alternative country" mean anything different to you than it would to the average music listener?
I don't really put things into a genre like that. I never understood when my friends would have a rock band, and they'd be like, "We're emo-punk-rock." I'm like, "No, you're rock." You don't have to make it some weird title to be cool. To me, country is what's cool — just straight-up country music. And that's what my music is, is country music. I don't care what people call it, as long as they know that it's country.
I want to know the story behind your official bio. You make it clear you don't want to fit into the traditional country-starlet narrative.
Bios bore me to tears. I was a public relations major in college. I wrote bios for people on the side, for money. They're so boring. They're regurgitated, they sound horrible, it makes people want to puke when they read 'em. You're sitting there like, "Why would you care who you opened for? It doesn't matter what you did in your past. It's what you're doing now." So I had a couple beers and wrote my own bio.
When I read it, I thought, "Well, maybe this isn't her. Maybe this is just a form of good PR at work."
Nope. It's me. I am good PR.