It's a bit of a stretch to file The Bittersweets under "country" because this is filled with rock inflected country-tinged pop. In that respect, it seems too easy to connect the musical dots between them and The Cowboy Junkies. But there are similarities that make the comparison an apt one.
The group, now down to a trio from a quintet, is fronted by Hannah Prater whose voice is often reminiscent of early Alison Krauss, particularly when Prater affects a breathy fragility. Highlights include the title track with its initially spare arrangement of vocal and piano that swells into a lovely lushness and the likeable jangle pop of "Bordertown" with its Bakersfield guitar line. There is a nameless hidden track that is simply stunning and far too brief.
The songwriting is the weakest aspect. Repetition is effective to a point - a good chorus is indeed a good chorus - but that found on 45 and Wreck simply becomes irritating. Certainly the group has yet to hit its stride, but it's evident they are headed in the right direction. After all, there is something to be said for a band that has Artie Fufkin on its side. (See The Bittersweets' tour blog Aug. 20, 2008).