Sweeney eventually moved back to Texas and hooked up with an improv troupe in Austin. It was at this point that she started taking her talents as a musician seriously. Encouraged by her fellow comedians and particularly her stepfather, who'd tried to teach her some guitar chords when she was a kid, Sweeney picked up a guitar and started practicing. She played her first real gig at Austin's Carousel Lounge in 2004, went on to nail down weekly spots at various honky tonks throughout the city, and managed to go on a small European tour soon after that. It was at this point that she managed to grab the attention of various music critics in the Austin area, and in 2005 the Austin Music Pundits named Sweeney one of the city's most notable local acts.
She landed a record deal with Big Machine soon after that, and her debut, Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame, was released in 2007. Three singles were chosen from that album, "If I Could," "Ten Years Pass," and "East Texas Pines"; none of them charted. Sweeney left Big Machine and eventually signed to Republic Nashville
. In 2010 she released "From a Table Away" as both a single and a video; it hit the number ten spot on the U.S. country chart, becoming the highest-charting Billboard debut single from a female country artist in four years. "Staying's Worse Than Leaving," which was also accompanied by a video, was the second pre-release single. Her full-length debut for the label, Concrete, produced by Brett Beavers, was released in August of that same year. It netted yet another Top 40 single, "Drink Myself Single."
Sweeney left Big Machine in 2012. Interestingly, she was nominated in the Top New Female Artist category at 2013's Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards, and signed to Thirty Tigers
shortly thereafter. Her first single for her new label was "Bad Girl Phase." It didn't chart but served as a pre-release for her label debut, Provoked, produced by Luke Wooten. The set was issued in August of 2014, peaking at number 20 on the country chart. Trophy, her second album for Thirty Tigers
, followed in March 2017. The LP included co-writes for Sweeney with Lori McKenna
, Buddy Owens, and Caitlyn Smith
, plus a trio of high-profile guests (Trisha Yearwood
, Ray Benson
, and Jack Ingram
) on backing vocals. ~ Margaret Reges, Rovi