It’s a source of satisfaction for the 37-year-old Sweeney that she not only toughed it out in the proving ground of Texas bars, but also spun her straight-talking take on the experience into an indelicate one-liner — and a slew of people have been walking around sporting it on their bodies since. She has a flair for frankness, which she’s channeled into each of her three albums to date, the latest, Provoked, above all. In the black-and-white close-up cover photo, her mouth is taped shut and her eyes seem to taunt the camera: “As if a little piece of tape is any match for this mouth.”
That justification could almost serve as her musical mission statement: Somebody might as well own up to the messes that others try so hard to keep behind closed doors. Further along on the album, in the Will Hoge duet “My Bed,” she gives voice to a reality lovers often can’t bring themselves to acknowledge — that the intimacy between them has hardened into strangeness. Then she spends two consecutive songs, the terrific “Uninvited” and “Sunday Dress,” bringing private moments of mortification out into the open.
The way she sees it, she dared herself to try a kind of performing she had up to that point known only from the listening side, but she had absorbed enough to form her own opinions about what was musically compelling and what wasn’t. She reckons the fans she has now are just as capable of engaging with and evaluating her music. So, as gutsy as her stuff tends to be, she never insists that her artistic intentions as songwriter and singer trump the meanings fans find in her songs.
Read Parts 1 Through 5 from No Depression HERE.