Tag Archives: Thirty Tigers

Album Review: Clint Black–On Purpose

Rating: 7/10

All I can say is, poor Clint Black. He’s always been the underrated member of the “class of ’89,” competing with Garth Brooks and others for attention and popularity even at the height of his career. Now, after ten years without a release from him, his new album, On Purpose, released by Thirty Tigers, was big news–until George Strait came along three days ago and announced a surprise album. Although Clint is in the unfortunate position of being in the shadow of Strait, Thomas Rhett, and even Don Henley, let’s not think of that; rather, let’s celebrate the fact that three good releases came out today to compete with the train wreck that Thomas Rhett has unleashed on the world and stained with the title “country.”

The album opens with “Time For That,” a nice song about taking time for the simple things in life. I notice two things immediately; Clint’s vocals are as great as ever, and this album could have come out in 2002. The former is the best part of the record; the latter is ultimately the worst, as although it is certainly country, and although I like the country from ten years ago, it feels like Clint Black is stuck between appealing to classic country fans and mainstream listeners, thus limiting his market. This wouldn’t be so significant if it wasn’t the first release in ten years–many Clint Black fans were hoping for more of his earlier sound. Next is “Better and Worse,” where Clint Black sings, “I’ve been better, I’ve been worse” and says, “Not everything’s gonna go my way.” This is a good summarization of the album; Clint Black has been better and worse in his career, and this song is made better because it captures Clint’s stage in life and state of mind well. The instrumentation in this song is also fun and decidedly country. “Summertime Song” is a nice ode to songs that we sing along to–it’s a nice song, but nothing really stands out. “One Way to Live” is a nice song about living a life of love and not going through life alone–“I can think of a thousand ways to die, but only one way to live.”

“Doing it Now For Love” feels like a personal song to Clint–he sings about “doing it now for love” instead of money or fame. I think this is Clint’s way of saying this is what he’s doing now: just singing for love and nothing else. “You Still Get to Me” is a nice, bluesy track featuring Clint’s wife Lisa Hartman–it’s probably my favorite track on the album and in an album full of nice, but not outstanding, tracks, this one is a little better. In fact, this bluesy influence is present in places throughout the album, and it’s a direction I am surprised to enjoy from Clint Black. I would be interested to hear more songs with this influence from him in the future–right now it just seems like he’s trying it out and isn’t really sure if he wants to go through with it. “Right on Time” is one of the better songs on the album; here the narrator sings about waiting for the right woman to come along, saying she’ll come “right on time.” He says that until then, “I’d rather just wait here alone.” The instrumentation here is nice, blending electric guitars and fiddles. “Still Calling it News” is another of the better songs–here, Clint calls out the media and politicians in what can only be called a catchy song. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, as Clint is criticizing the headlines and attitudes rather than their viewpoints–“It’s getting pretty old, but they’re still calling it news.”

“Making You Smile” is about a man who thinks his woman is in love with someone else, that there’s someone else “behind that look in your eyes” and “making you smile.” It’s like Zac Brown Band’s “Goodbye in Her Eyes,” but without as much emotion and intensity. It’s still a nice song, but it could have been better. “Stay Gone” is an interesting song which seems to be about dealing with the devil and praying that he will stay gone. Clint’s vocals are really nice in this song, and the rock guitars add some intensity which works well. Next is “Breathing Air,” a love song in which Black is telling the woman that he will be there as long as he is breathing. The rocking song “Beer” is just that: a song about different beers from various places around the world. I could have done without this, as it adds nothing at all to the album. I’ll give it this; it is quite catchy and fun. Next is “The Trouble,” one of the better songs musically and really overall; this is about a woman who is “the kind you wanna run away from, the kind you wanna run into.” The album concludes with “The Last Day,” a nice song about living each day as if it is your last.

All in all, this is a solid album from Clint Black. It’s nothing remarkable–nothing really stood out, and there were no “moments” of awesomeness. However, there was nothing wrong with it either, and I’m glad to see Clint Black making good music again. This feels like a personal record from Clint, and I’m glad that he is back to “doing it now for love.”

Listen to Album

Female Fridays: Featuring Sunny Sweeney

Last week, I featured Katie Armiger and noted that she is one of my favorite underrated female country artists. I love her sound because it is pop country that is done very well. This week, I am featuring Sunny Sweeney, one of my favorite traditional country females.

How You Might Know Sunny

Sunny Sweeney had a top 10 hit in 2011 with “From a Table Away” which many will remember. She was also an opener on Miranda Lambert’s recent Certified Platinum tour.


Sunny Sweeney (born December 7, 1976 in Houston, Texas, and raised in Longview), got a degree in public relations and even tried to make it in the “real” world for awhile. That is, until one day when she picked up a guitar and made the life-changing decision to pursue singing and songwriting. She began playing several shows a week in Texas and quickly had a growing fan base. In 2006, she independently released Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame, which, according to her Web site,
found its way onto the desk of Big Machine Records president Scott Borchetta
This turn of events led to a record deal and the re-release of the album in 2007, with three singles making the Texas Music Chart.

In 2010, after signing to Republic Nashville, a joint venture between Big Machine and Universal Republic, Sunny released the well-known “From a Table Away.” This has been her highest charting single–on a major chart–and peaked at No. 10. it was followed by the excellent album Concrete. Concrete was my first experience with Sunny Sweeney, and I couldn’t wait to hear more music from her. Other less-known singles from that album include “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving” and “Drink Myself Single.”

For whatever reason–we can speculate on many–Sunny Sweeney and Big Machine parted ways after this album. In 2014, Sunny released her third album, Provoked with Thirty Tigers, the self-proclaimed
“home for independent artists.”
The first two singles, “Bad Girl Phase” and “My Bed”–a duet with fellow Texas singer Will Hoge that Sunny co-wrote with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley of the Pistol Annies–hit No. 1 on the Texas Music Chart. This makes Sunny Sweeney the first female to have two consecutive singles hit No. 1 on the Texas charts. She said of the experience, “I am very honored to be the first female to ever have two number one songs back to back on the Texas music chart…I believe firmly that if you just keep following your heart and working your butt off, you will see the payoff and positive results.”

Why Sunny Belongs on Country Radio

Why? Well, for one, she’s already proved she can get chart success with “From a Table Away.” That song wasn’t a pop song either–it was a traditional sounding song about the “other woman” witnessing the husband, whom she thought was ready to leave his wife, from a table away with his wife. The husband is obviously still in love with the wife, and the other woman is confronting him later after having seen them together. This song did well on the charts, so why is it inconceivable to think Sunny could have radio success again? Not to mention she’s doing very well on the Texas Music Chart right now–proving that if actual country music was getting played on “country” radio, she would be highly successful. Also, much like Katie Armiger, her songwriting is relatable and autobiographical. However, unlike younger artists, such as Katie and Taylor Swift, Sunny writes from a place of more experience. Her songs speak of marriage, divorce, and adultery–many times from the view of the “other woman,”–in a way that says she’s lived the lyrics.

In addition, Sunny got a lot of exposure from Miranda Lambert’s Certified Platinum tour, so many more people should know her music now. But sadly, when I was standing in line before the doors opened to see Miranda on that very tour, a local DJ was spinning Miranda Lambert and Justin Moore hits (Justin was the other opener.) After awhile, he called out, “All of you know Miranda Lambert” to which we all cheered. Then he added, “But how many of you know Sunny Sweeney?” A handful of people answered. He said, “Well, here’s one of her songs,” and played “Bad Girl Phase,” one of the recent No. 1 Texas Music Chart singles. For many standing around me, that was the first they’d heard of Sunny Sweeney, and that speaks volumes. The same crowd that was cheering for Miranda Lambert should have been cheering for Sunny Sweeney, and yet most did not even know her name.

Tracks I Recommend

You cannot go wrong with either Concrete or Provoked, but if I had to narrow it down, here’s where I’d start.

1. Amy–Concrete
2. From a Table Away–Concrete
3. Fall for Me–Concrete
4. Staying’s Worse Than Leaving–Concrete
5. My Bed (featuring Will Hoge)–Provoked
6. Carolina on the Line–Provoked
7. Find Me–Provoked
8. Bad Girl Phase–Provoked
9. You Don’t Know Your Husband–Provoked
10. Drink Myself Single–Concrete
11. Refresh my Memory–Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame

Listen to Concrete

Listen to Provoked

These are the two No. 1 Texas Music Chart singles. Both are great, but my personal favorite is “My Bed.”