Personnel: Chris Meyers (vocals, guitar, piano, Wurlitzer organ, keyboards); Hannah Prater (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano); Steve Bowman (vocals, drums, percussion); Lex Price (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, percussion); Doug Lancio (electric guitar, electric 12-string guitar, baritone guitar); Jason Lehning (electric guitar, synthesizer); David Henry (violin, cello); James DiGirolamo (piano, organ); John Deaderick (organ); Thad Cockrell (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Jason Lehning.
Recording information: House Of David, Nashville, TN; The Toy Box, Nashville, TN; True Tone Studios, Nashville, TN.
Editor: Jill Walsh.
The Bittersweets' sound is satisfying in a way that's almost physical, like eating a big chunk of solid, crusty bread: it's crunchy on the outside and warm and tender on the inside, and there's a hidden artfulness in its deceptively straightforward simplicity. On their second album the lineup has been stripped down from the debut's quintet to a trio (augmented by various session players), and the songs vary in tone and texture from sharp and lean to big and rich. Hannah Prater still has that muscular, whiskey-edged, Maria McKee-ish voice going for her, and uses it to particularly fine effect on the roots rocking "Wreck," the subtly complex "My Sweet Love," and the soft and regretful "When the War Is Over." When the Bittersweets stray from the meat-and-potatoes strength of their ensemble sound, the results are mixed: "45" is a sluggish and self-indulgent song with a flat, featureless melody, and "Tidal Waves" goes just a little bit too heavy on the pedal steel guitar. But there's no arguing with the delicate loveliness of "Blue" or the gorgeous midtempo country rocker "Birmingham." Despite a couple of slightly disappointing moments, Goodnight, San Francisco is a solid winner overall. ~ Rick Anderson