Happy release day to the innocence mission
Having landed to fatastic critical praise, the new album from Pensylvania’s the innocence mission is available now on 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.
1999’s Birds Of My Neighborhood kickstarted the innocence mission as we know them today, following three albums as a quartet that drew comparisons to The Sundays and 10,000 Maniacs. But when drummer Steve Brown left, Karen Peris (guitars, piano, pump organ, accordion, voice), husband Don (guitars, drums, voice) and Mike Bitts (upright bass) forged ahead with an orchestral, at times cinematic, folk pop sound which they felt was truer to their real nature in any case, a sound rich in atmosphere, innately sad, but ultimately hopeful.
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.
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,‘60s folk and pop, and her “admiration for someone going out into the world bravely and in kindness – the possibility for one person to be a light in the world. That love will prevail over fear.”
Love and fear, longing and loss, belief and awe – Sun On The Square is an emotional journey, and destined to find new fans for the band while re-establishing contact with those already in the fold. Either way, prepare to have your heart broken and your breath taken. Tears might fall. You have been warned.
Critical acclaim for Sun On The Square:
“Exquisite… Evoking Bookends–era Simon & Garfunkel and Vashti Bunyan, Karen Peris’s voice is an instrument of tender fragility.” MOJO – 4 Stars ****
“Disarmingly delicate folk–pop… Refreshingly otherworldly.” Uncut – 8/10
“Glintingly beautiful intimacy and wonder from Pennsylvanian quiet folk trio.” Q – 4 Stars ****
“A beautiful and timeless album… It hunts out the curious minutiae of being alive, saves them and makes them spectacular. ” Loud & Quiet – 9/10
“Simply gorgeous… A stunning collection of beautifully vulnerable folk songs.” London In Stereo
“Karen Peris’ enchanting voice stars on this bucolic folky treasure adorned with affecting violin, viola and nylon–strung guitar.” Long Live Vinyl
“The delicacy of Karen Peris’ vocals and imagery are renewed on 10 new songs, on which ‘Green Bus’ sets the mood with its beautiful, rippling acoustic guitar and aching strings.” PROG
Sun On The Square is out now on Bella Union.