Thursday, 5 August 2010

Song Review: Sunny Sweeney - From A Table Away

I don't intend to make this blog a music reviews blog, but from time to time I intend to write about songs I absolutely love, or ones I despise. The latter's a lot more fun to do, but I'm actually going to start off on a positive note. Shocking, I know.

'From A Table Away' is Sunny Sweeney's first single in several years, and marks a change in direction from the traditional honky-tonk sound of her first album, Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame. The production here is more modern country, and Sweeney's voice has echoes of Natalie Maines', which is certainly no bad thing indeed!

The song tells the story, in the first person, of the 'other woman', who finds herself at the next table in a restaurant to her lover and his wife, and listens in on their conversation, in which she realises they're still very much in love, and confronts her man afterwards. There's several ways this song could have been taken by a lesser vocalist, and that's where my admiration for both the song and singer comes in. The song doesn't tell us how to feel, it doesn't tell us all the background, and lets us fill in the gaps for ourselves. Did this man lie to her? Did he ever intend to leave? Or have his feelings changed? And then there's the fact that we are hearing the song from the perspective of the other woman, the potential homewrecker. Is that where our sympathies lie?

There's slight echoes of anger and resentment in the song, but they don't take over at any point. I'd say the main emotion here is sadness, and of a realisation. In overhearing and watching their conversation, the narrator realises that her lover is still in love with his wife, or is at least prepared to make another go of it with her ("I heard you tell her you still love her"), and that this spells the end for her relationship with him. Then there's the line "I guess that means that things are better", could be interpreted in several ways. It could be sarcastic, bitter or desperate, and there's possibly even a little bit of pleasure, that the man she loves, even though she cannot have him, is happy.

I guess that's my overall feeling with this song, and the reason I like it so much. There's so many lines that can be read in many ways, and Sweeney interprets them beautifully, managing to bring across all of these emotions without letting one dominate, giving the song an ambiguity that demands the listener think, consider, and listen again.

The multiple layers of the lyrics can be summed up in the final line: "You're gonna stay a table away". This could be anger, pushing the man who has hurt her away. Or it could be sad resignation, developing the metaphor of a crowded restaurant to where she realises she will never share a table with the man she loves.

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