By all accounts, ‘Provoked’ has been a long time coming. The last few years have seen Sunny split from Big Machine Records (everybody cheer), divorce her husband, marry someone new, start a crowdfunding campaign to fund her new record, and sign with independent label Thirty Tigers in order to release it. Probably not in that order. It’s been an interesting trajectory though for someone who began on the Texas circuit several years ago now, self-releasing her first album in 2006, and only finding herself unleashing her third record on the world in 2014. But that kind of unusual direction seems to be something that Sunny embraces, and that permeates this album; indeed, ‘Second Guessing’ tackles the subject directly, proclaiming she will stop second guessing her mistakes, because those mistakes are what led her to her current husband and generally this good place in her life.
Throughout this largely autobiographical record, we get a sense that Sunny has spent some time maturing through all these life experiences. Every moment of note is narrated with storytelling aplomb and a keen wit; the bluntly honest approach seems to be her forte, but she isn’t afraid to explore her more poetic side, peppering tracks like ‘Carolina On The Line’ with metaphors and a more literary sense. For the most part, however, her bright, headstrong personality and sense of humor come through in droves, such as in the sassy lead single ‘Bad Girl Phase’ (more detailed review here), and the wry way in which she tackles small town secrets and skeletons in the closet in ‘Front Row Seats’. What’s interesting about the latter is the way in which she hints towards a wider relevance during the chorus, cheerfully singing, “la di da, we all just sing along, while the world goes to hell in a feel-good song”. Call me crazy, but this could easily be shade at bro-country and party anthems for singing only about good times, while the harsh realities of life are happening all around. “We do what we gotta do, so our dreams come true, but when they don’t, it’s all la di da…” she trills, the implications of ordinary folk and country music artists ignoring the imperfections of life underlying her delivery.
Read more from The News Hub review HERE.