East Texas native Sunny Sweeney has been on the Texas music scene since her 2007 debut CD “Heartbreakers Hall Of Fame”. Loaded with personality, wit, and straight up attitude, it served notice that Sunny would be a force to be reckoned with (as well as a much needed female artist) in the Texas music genre. But Sunny’s aspirations appear to go far beyond being destined for success in the Lone Star State.

Here we are, four years later. Sweeney’s sophomore effort, “Concrete” hits stores. With this one, Sunny’s stepped up in a number of ways. First of all, she’s signed with Republic Nashville, a much larger label, and better suited for artists with aspirations beyond regional success. Second, there’s considerably more depth and variety to the music (Sunny still writes the bulk of the songs on “Concrete”, but they all feature co-writers…most notably Radney Foster on “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving”). Third, Sunny Sweeney has clearly been groomed to fit the role of a Nashville recording artist.

The new 10-song CD is spotted with songs that were clearly marked for national radio release, like “Staying” and “From A Table Away”, songs that are obviously safe to release and pique the interest of country music fans who are used to the likes of Martina McBride and Sara Evans on their favorite radio station. If you were a Sunny Sweeney fan before you heard these “mainstream” tunes, you may be asking yourself, “what happened to Sunny?”.

Don’t worry. Remember the depth I mentioned? “Concrete” features plenty of music where Sunny’s attitude and spunk shows, including the opening track, “Drink Myself Single”. Sunny Sweeney is still her unique self, but with a little extra Nashville polish in some spots. All in all, this CD is a pretty good listen.

There’s been a lingering question about the direction of Sunny’s career leading up to the release of “Concrete”: Does she have what it takes to be one of the huge stars in Nashville country music, or should she just stick to being a phenomenal Texas recording artist? The answer is, the jury’s still out. That’s not a knock on her talent. I think Sunny Sweeney is plenty talented. Go buy the CD. But the success of country music artists today is so dependent on a business plan, how well your label promotes you, and the ability to handle the stress of a demanding public appearance schedule. It’s not necessarily about the music all the time. Nashville has chewed up and spit out many a talented artist. All you can do is wish her luck and hope Sunny can hang in there long enough to score some big hits. If that doesn’t work out, she has plenty of fans in Texas that will welcome her back with open arms.

Watch the video for “From a Table Away” from Sunny’s album “Concrete”.