Sunny Sweeney – “From A Table Away”

Sam Gazdziak | June 29th, 2010

Sunny SweeneySongwriters: Bob DiPiero, Karyn Rochelle, and Sunny Sweeney

Despite being a new release, Sunny Sweeney’s “From a Table Away” has already managed to do what none of the songs from her debut album could: chart. Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame, which was self-released before being reissued on Big Machine Records, made an impact with critics, who liked the modern honky-tonk sound, but its three singles didn’t take to radio or appear in Billboard magazine.

Sweeney’s East Texas twang isn’t as noticeable as it is on something like “Ten Years Pass” from her first album, and the sound of “From a Table Away” is more polished. This is, however, a rare case when polishing a song doesn’t remove all traces of originality. It didn’t turn Sweeney into a pop singer either–this is unmistakeably country, from the prominent steel guitar to the time-honored theme of marital infidelity.

Songwriters Sweeney, Bob DiPiero and Karyn Rochelle filled the lyrics with sharp, honest observations as the cheating husband’s lies are unraveled all at once. “I thought she was pretty, she’s nothing like the things you said,” she sings. In lines like those, it gives some sympathy to “the other woman,” who has been lied to as much as the wife.

Sweeney doesn’t approach the song with the ball-busting vengeance of fellow Texans Natalie Maines or Miranda Lambert. Rather, she sings with a sophisticated sadness that puts her in the same league as a Pam Tillis or Lee Ann Womack when she’s not in pop ballad mode. Much like Lambert did with “The House That Built Me,” Sweeney shows here she has the ability do slow and sad as well as she does raucous and fun.

Perhaps in 2007 and ’08, country radio wasn’t ready for Sweeney’s sound. If it is now, then some of the subgenres that have populated the airwaves like country-pop and country-rock will make way and allow some non-hyphenated country music to be heard.

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  1. [...] The 9513 gives it a thumbs-up | Austin 360 gives Sunny a shout-out [...]
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  1. Rick
    June 29, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Sam said: “Perhaps in 2007 and ’08, country radio wasn’t ready for Sweeney’s sound.” Well they might have been ready for Sunny’s “new” Nashville / Brett Beaavers inspired sound as now presented.

    I’m not surprised to see Bob DiPiero’s writing credit on ths song as that combined with Brett Beavers production makes this song much more mainstream country than any track on “Heartbreakers Hall of Fame”. When Sunny was signed by Scott Borchetta to Big Machine, and then moved to his joint venture label Republic Nashville, the goal has always been to see if Sunny could become a Top 40 country radio success. That’s always the goal of the Nashville labels targeted at that market, so Sunny’s transformation away from being a twangy Texan hard country singer began in ernest.

    By surveying the female artists who were doing okay on Top 40 radio, Sunny’s handlers must have decided to shoot for a cross between Miranda Lambert and Lee Ann Womack, ie tough and somewhat traditional at the same time. Trying to turn Sunny into an American Idol style diva or “big voice”, like Reba McEntire or Martina McBride, was out of the question, and Sunny’s too old and too married to tap into the Taylor Swift tweey-teeny bopper demographic. Of all the female artists they could have chosen to emulate these days, Miranda Lambert is a prime choice and there’s always the Texas Connection factor.

    As for this song I do like its melody and lyrical content but I find the production too dense for such an intimate song. Its too bad Sunny didn’t tap into the producer of Dierks’ new bluegrassy album rather than Brett Beavers. What was she thinking? (lol)

    This song is doing okay at country radio right now. Here’s last week’s Mediabase “Adds” of 10 stations or more:

    This Week’s Mediabase Most Added Songs:
    1) Danny Gokey/I Will Not Say Goodbye (33)
    2) Darius Rucker/Come Back Song (28)
    3) Toby Keith/Trailerhood (23)
    4) The Band Perry/If I Die Young (13)
    5) John Rich/Country Done Come To Town (11)
    6) Steel Magnolia/Just By Being You (Halo & Wings) (11)
    7) Sunny Sweeney/From a Table Away (10)

    As much as I love “Heartbreaker’s Hall Of Fame” era Sunny, my top pick from that list is The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young”. “From A Table Away” is a fine song, but Sunny is capable of so much more. Or at least she was prior to her Nashvegas transformation…

  2. Mike Wimmer
    June 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    This is one of my new favorite songs. Songs like this and “Macon” remind us what this genre was and can still be when done right.

  3. Paul W Dennis
    June 29, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    A bit of a letdown after her previous efforts. This may do well at radio, but it’s a bit generic.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the song but it is a song any of her less talented brethren could have sung (and almost all of her female brethren are less talented than Sunny). Hopefully she can find a way to both have hits and keep more of herself in her recordings

  4. Leeann Ward
    June 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I pretty much agree with Paul. The song is okay, but it’s not as good as her previous album. She does well with what it is, but the production and even the melody isn’t anything that grabs me. It’s all too generic. Her voice is the best part of the song.

  5. Dave D.
    June 29, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Agree with all the previous comments. I’m a huge Sunny fan, but this is pretty watered down compared to what she’s done in the past. I hope for her sake that this is a big hit, but it isn’t replacing Heartbreakers Hall of Fame in my playlist.

    It might be time to start constructing a Scott Borchetta voodoo doll.

  6. Razor X
    June 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I don’t like the song as much as anything on her first album, either, but it’s still pretty good and the “watering down” is just a recognition of commercial necessities. It’s certainly a lot less watered down than what most of her contemporaries are doing.

  7. Ben Foster
    June 29, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    I really love the sound of this record. It’s a good mixture of traditional and contemporary country. It features traditional instruments with just enough polish to be radio-friendly.

    I’m not familiar with Sunny’s earlier work. I had heard Sunny Sweeney’s name before (having read about her in Country Weekly), but I had not heard her actual music, so I don’t have much to compare this two. But on its own terms, it’s not bad.

  8. SUSAN
    June 30, 2010 at 12:23 am

    I just “thank” Sunny is a very REAL singer…someone that is just trying to do what is in her heart to “dew”. And I just do NOT understand how peeps come out here and JUDGE. Just remember what they did to Miss Loretta Lynn???? RICK, Miss LL would have ignored what u say and so will Sunny! She ain’t trying to be a “Taylor Swift tweey-teeny bopper”, ARE you? and if she is “too old and too married” that aint NONE of your BUSINESS! She is trying to make a living…WHAT do “yew” do? sit here and JUDGE peeps for FREE??? I believe that SAM has a job that he does and he gets paid and he does a very good job at it and so does “Miss” Sunny….and Sam did very well with this story :) but I will say this…..I do think the internet helps not only singers but everyone connect to their REAL fans rather than listening to junk … and the fans keep THEM going and going for a change RATHER than listen to BS. SUNNY SWEENEY you ROCK gal! Just do what makes you feel good! and Sam thanks for a very professional opinion :)

  9. Nicolas
    June 30, 2010 at 2:16 am

    This song is a real gem, and I would love to see it do well on the charts, because her voice is great & the song is well-written, performed, and produced

  10. Patti
    June 30, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I have been a Sunny fan since she first sang at the Poodle Dog in Austin…can’t get any honky tonkier than that!!! I LOVE her new single.
    Saw her last month at Saxon Pub and her music is still as awesome as ever!! Her performance has matured in the 5 yrs I have heard her, AND it is still unmistakably Sunny!!! Nothing can change that! She just gets better and better!! If you don’t believe me, ask my husband!!!

  11. Miss Leslie
    June 30, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Awesome. Fans are amazing.

  12. SUSAN
    June 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    From A Table Away played at:
    11:09am Sunny Sweeny
    artist….Thank YOU 95.9 The Ranch YAY!!! Go Sunny!!!

  13. SUSAN
    June 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    From A Table Away played at: 4:17pm Sunny Sweeny artist

    THANK YOU 95.9 The Ranch :)

  14. Brady Vercher
    June 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    This isn’t a forum to track radio plays, so please don’t do that here.

  15. Ben Foster
    June 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    That’s cool that Susan’s local country station is giving this song some airplay. I have yet to hear it on the air!

    I wonder if I’m seeing the country radio climate change for the better. Miranda Lambert just had a huge smash with a simple laid-back country tune, and artists like Easton Corbin are gaining popularity. And now here comes Sunny Sweeney with a twangy tune that stands a good chance at becoming a hit. I’m hoping this is the start of another neotraditionalist movement.

  16. Rick
    June 30, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    The radio station Susan is referring to broadcasts in the Dallas / Fort Worth region of Texas and describes is music mix as “The Ranch – Authentic, Texas, & Classic Country Music”. Spins on a station like that isn’t representative of most of the other Top 40 country radio stations around the country.

    Ben, if you buy “Heartbreakers Hall of Fame” and listen through a couple of times, you’ll quickly grasp what us big fans of that album are talking about! If “From A Table Away” was the first song by Sunny I had ever heard, it would not interest me enough to seek out more of her music. Its better than most of the other songs currently on Top 40 country radio, but not different or unique enough in its sound to grab my attention.

    On the other hand Sunny’s pal Brennen Leigh’s new album “The Box” has all the old timey country purity that Sunny’s Republic Nashville sound has lost! Brennen doesn’t have as powerful and distinctive of voice as Sunny does, but she wrings out all the emotion she can in the new record. I wish Sunny and Brennen would hit the road together for a concert in Los Angeles!

  17. Paul W Dennis
    June 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Brennan Leigh’s album is indeed excellent but you are correct Rick, she doesn’t have Sunny’s vocal prowess

    July 2, 2010 at 2:13 am

    I love it………I AM A LONG TIME FAN……..I love her versitility.

  19. Sam Lautner
    July 3, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Too much Nashville slick going on for me. I don’t like anything about it and I can’t even recognize it’s Sunny singing it sounds so different.

  20. Linda Strausbaugh
    July 24, 2010 at 10:44 am

    We found Sunny on the new promos for radio a few years ago and then we went to see her at Skippers Smokehouse in Tampa, FL. We loved her from the first ‘twangy’ sound of, If I Could! After her show at Skippers my husband Denny and his friend Scotty helped her (to her amazement) to sell every one of her CD’s. She is just amazing and We want to hear a lot more of her in the future! P.S. please don’t lose the ‘TWANG’ we LOVE it!

  21. John
    January 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I like the hook and the instrumentals.

  22. Sally Higgins
    February 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Heard your song on our local radio station 99.5 for the first time this morning. Truly is great song and will certainly be a big hit. Tells a real story that most people can relate to……..keep up the good work. Sincerely

  23. Melissa Watts
    March 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    is this cd not yet available for purchase? If it is, where can I acquire a copy?

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