"Don't see me only as I am but see me how I long to be"
Pennsylvania's The Innocence Mission have been going since the early 80s but you wouldn't know it from listening to them. They sound incredibly fresh even though singer and pianist Karen Peris's voice always sounds strangely familiar. The band is now a trio of Peris, her guitarist husband Don and bassist Mike Bitts, although before 1999 the line-up also included Steve Brown on drums.
To date they have released 10 albums (the most recent being We Walked In Song, released in March 2007), but to my mind their best is 2003's Befriended, which is gorgeous from start to finish. It begins with Tomorrow On The Runway (you can stream or download it from The Innocence Mission's myspace page) which really sets the tone for the whole album. Wistful, full of need and feeling like there's a chill in the air. This album feels perfect for this time of year and there isn't a song on it which isn't perfectly placed.
The stand out track for me on Befriended is One For Sorrow, Two For Joy. It was the first song of theirs I ever heard and I was mesmerised for the whole four minutes and five seconds. I may even have had a solitary tear rolling down my cheek by the time it had finished playing, in an aesthetically pleasing manner indicating my emotional depth. (Or I may have been a snivelling, snotty wreck. One or the other...)
The final song on the album, Look For Me As You Go By, is my perfect way to end any album. A hopeful, slow-builder that leads beautifully on to the first track of the album so you can start all over again without spotting the join!
To give you some idea of what their newer material is like, here's a live performance of Brotherhood Of Man from the most recent album, We Walked In Song. (To avoid disappointment, I ought to say that it isn't an ode to the British group who represented the UK in the Eurovison Song Contest with Save Your Kisses For Me.)
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