Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame

What’s improv comedy got to do with country music? Not much, it turns out, which is why when SUNNY SWEENEY sang in a few skits as an aspiring comedian in New York, her fellow actors—walloped by her voice—sent her packing back to Texas. She had learned guitar only a few years earlier in high school and had never sung professionally, but no matter; by 2004 the Longview native had plunged headlong into a music career. Now her debut, HEARTBREAKER’S HALL OF FAME (Big Machine), is liable to line up all manner of converts. There aren’t many practitioners left of this kind of music—unadorned instrumentation augmented by pedal steel, pronounced rural accents that turn words like “well” into three syllables—which makes this gem of an album so refreshing. Sweeney’s writing has a ways to go, but she’s smart enough to surround herself with veterans (Jim Lauderdale’s “Refresh My Memory” is a real standout), and she sings as if it’s exactly what she was born to do.

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