Provoked by Sunny Sweeney

Sunny Sweeney isn’t particularly into playing nice or putting on some kind of act to keep up appearances.

On Sunny’s latest full-length album, Provoked, she’s messy in the best way—defiantly embracing the nightlife and her sexuality on the gospelly, funky “Bad Girl Phase”; feeling the distance growing between her lover and her in “My Bed” (which features Will Hoge); or cautiously accepting the present state of affairs in “Second Guessing.”

The remnants of relationships are all over Provoked, wounds still fresh on the delicate “Sunday Dress” as well as “Carolina on the Line” or the rocking version of “Can’t Let Go” (which many fans will remember from Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road).

Sunny also displays a wicked sense of humor on “Backhanded Compliment” and the raucous “You Don’t Know Your Husband,” boldly putting herself in the role of the Other Woman.

“Find Me” and “Uninvited” are decent conceptually, but don’t quite come together in execution, which accounts for the points off.

Ultimately, Sunny’s strengths lie in serving up her own brand of unvarnished realness, as on the honky-tonk two-stepper “Everybody Else Can Kiss My Ass,” or the metaphor-for-dudes “Used Cars,” where she prefers something with a few miles on the odometer.

It’s clever, unapologetic and as real as it gets.

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