How Sunny Sweeney Got So ‘Provoked’: Inside Her Badass New Album

During her 40th appearance at the Grand Ole Ole Opry last month, Sunny Sweeney performed one of the standout tracks from her just-released album, Provoked. The bouncy “Backhanded Compliment” takes a humorous swipe at those well-meaning — but ultimately boneheaded — things people say to someone that don’t end up being all that flattering. The tune, which Sweeney co-wrote with the prolific Natalie Hemby (“Pontoon,” “Automatic”), includes such gems as “It seems like you have lost a lot of weight,” “Has anyone told you you look like your mom?” and “It’s too bad that you have not had more success.”

Truth be told, the latter “compliment” is one the Texas native has probably heard more than a few times (and is about to read once more). Sweeney’s potent mixture of true-to-life heartache and disarming humor has earned her membership in a very exclusive country-music club these days, where fellow female practitioners of the genre who have achieved the level of stardom they truly deserve include Miranda Lambert and… well, that’s about it. Provoked is the third full-length album from Sweeney, whose first, the twang-tastic Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame, was one of the year’s best-reviewed country albums when Big Machine Records (home to Taylor Swift) released it in 2007. That disc was followed by the more polished but no less traditional country of Concrete in 2011, which featured the Top 10 hit “From a Table Away” and helped Sweeney score an Academy of Country Music award nomination for Top New Female Vocalist. All impressive accomplishments but, yes, it is too bad Sweeney has not had more success. Provoked, however, handily delivers on the promise of being a potential game-changer for the singer-songwriter.

Read more from Rolling Stone Country and Sunny Sweeney’s interview HERE.