innocence mission Sun On the Square (CD, £10.50)label: bella union
For listeners of the innocence mission, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania trio are beyond a favourite band, more like a beloved companion, such is their intensity and fragility of their sound and vision, spearheaded by Karen Peris’ heartbreaking, breathtaking voice. Those fans include Sufjan Stevens and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), who have both covered innocence mission songs, and in whose company the trio deserve to be bracketed. Sufjan Stevens calls the innocence mission “moving and profound,” adding, “What makes Karen Peris’ lyrics so remarkable is the economy of words, sensory language, concrete nouns - everyday objects take on tremendous meaning.” Images of nature, colour, weather and season are continued throughout the album. “For me it’s helpful to be able to see the song, if I can” Karen says. the innocence mission are Karen Peris (guitars, piano, pump organ, accordion, voice), husband Don (guitars, drums, voice) and Mike Bitts (upright bass). On this record, their teenage son and daughter are guests, adding violin and viola, respectively. They’re a tight-knit family, strengthened by the parents’ choice to stay home through their children’s upbringing and not to go on tour. The scarcity of innocence mission concerts is perhaps why they have remained something of a well-kept secret. Despite her references to nature, Karen says she often hears ‘city scenes’ in ‘Sun On The Square’ - part of the record’s own air of mystery. Such as the title track, inspired by Astrud Gilberto, 1960’s folk and pop. Love and fear, longing and loss, belief and awe - ‘Sun On The Square’ is an emotional journey destined to find new fans for the band while re-establishing contact with those already in the fold.
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