Album Reviews of the 80s

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Innocence Mission, "Innocence Mission" / 1989 Review by: Julien Peter Benney
Most people, I honestly MUST state, undoubtedly find Karen Peris much too religious for their tastes, and consequently the Innocence Mission never had a chance of reaching a wider audience. This album has an unmistakable '80s sound, but despite only very limited sales it proved an unusually influential album on singer/songwriters of the early 1990s, simplifying the melodies of earlier singer/songwriter work to make them reasonably catchy and reducing the intrumentation to allow Karen's voice and her husband Don's guitar to produce quite sublime melodies. This gives it a wonderful sound, and I am captivated by it from beginning to end. Karen Peris, besides having a voice rivalled only by Harriet Wheeler, is a most accomplished lyricist dealing in unusual ways with everyday life, as on "Surreal", "Mercy", "I Remember Me (For Anna)", "Notebook", "Come Around And See Me" and "Curious". This last song is a most brilliant description of Karen's early interest in her eldest brother's marriage - "Umbrella", on which Karen's Catholic faith is far more overt, showed she had second thoughts about it. The album's strongest song is the wonderful "Mercy" with Peris' totally pure voice blending angelically with husband Don's guitar sound. The anthemic ballad "Broken Circle", which was what revived the piano as a rock instrument, is close behind. Peris' pious language can be shocking in an unusual way - it lies much further from everyday language than the profanity of gangsta rappers. A brilliant album by a most unusual talent, which, although it sold very few copies, you would be well advised to buy to see the singer/songwriter genre at its best.

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