by Al Kaufman
Hannah Prater’s voice evokes emotions that most people never even knew existed before they heard her. Just imagine the results if Lucinda Williams’, Jenny Lewis’ and Joni Mitchell’s DNA were all mixed up in a petri dish. She has raw emotion, grit, and vocal clarity. Her voice is truly an instrument. Most people this gifted are wasted by singing songs that sound like bad Broadway show tunes. Luckily for Prater, the Bittersweets songwriter is Chris Meyers. Meyers was an accomplished jazz pianist before he discovered roots music. His songs encompass the best of both worlds. They are full of real characters dealing with life, while the music around them sways and swirls, complimenting their stories exquisitely.
Opening track, "Wreck," about a young couple doomed from the beginning, offers a lilting twang that is as instantly recognizable as it is unique. With Prater’s voice, it sounds like the best song Austrailian cowgirl Kasey Chambers never wrote. Unfortunately, nothing else on here is as accessible, but others come close. Whether it be the lamenting suicide ballad, "45," or the gentle harmonies of "Lies," Prater is more than up to the task. It is only a pity that she is never given a chance to really cut loose and belt out a song with wild abandon. She has it in her, and it would be glorious.
Goodnight, San Francisco is more than a CD title for the Bittersweets.The band, formed in the California city, recently moved to Nashville in hopes of stardom after signing with Compass and trimming their band down from a quintet to a trio. "The voices in my head say/’You’re gonna be a rock and roll star, someday’" sings Prater on the title track. In a perfect world, it would be so.