The Innocence Mission is one of the world’s most aptly named bands. The gossamered folk-pop of their latest album, the ninth in a nearly two-decade career, evokes the commingling of childhood and adulthood.
Karen Peris’ lyrics are disarmingly simple; on paper they read far more like poetry. Her distinctive airy trill never really rises above a soft croon, fit for a lullaby or pensive reverie. She and husband Don Peris — along with Mike Bitts, the trio’s bassist and only other member since the departure of drummer Steve Brown several years back — clothe songs in translucent arrangements, leaving visible the elegantly spare skeletons lying beneath.
The result is anything but loud or dense; spacious is more like it, a fitting environment for the delicate touch of Peris’ songwriting. (Incidentally, she dedicated We Walked In Song to her recently deceased parents, which could be why her musings are even more attuned than usual to the human lives around her, whether strangers or her own son.)
The trio builds ever so gingerly around Peris’ voice, with chiming, fingerpicked guitar and washes of pump organ, keyboard and piano. During the album opener “Brotherhood Of Man”, her gauzy singing rests on sparse acoustic and electric guitars and upright bass. The “brotherhood of man” image surfaces again near the album’s end, drifting over the ethereal sonic palette of “Colors Of The World”, which closes with the simplest, most childlike statement of all: “You are a friend of mine.”