hope you are on your rooftop now, in the sun, in the middle of five
hundred flowers, and a warm wind blows your scarf straight out,
flying like a flag.
Karen Peris / rooftop
the innocence mission began as four friends who met during
a Catholic high school production of the musical Godspell. Since
1989, they have released four critically acclaimed albums: the innocence
mission (A&M 1989), Umbrella (A&M 1991), Glow (A&M 1995),
and Birds Of My Neighborhood (RCA 1999). Through recordings and
numerous tours, (on their own and with Natalie Merchant, EmmyLou
Harris, 16 Horsepower) they have remained friends.
Small Planes, their fifth full-length release, spans the years between
1996 and 2001, and combines new recordings with others rediscovered
from the bands large, post-Glow studio archive. The result
is a moving collection of eleven songs whose heartbreaking beauty
is both strange and familiar. Karen Peris haunting, transcendently
lovely voice communicates with immediacy and directness, speaking
to our common sorrows and joys, speaking of everyday miracles. Its
true that there is a lot of longing in these songs, she says.
Longing to cross the distances to other people, longing to
stop letting good intentions go nowhere, longing to have a child.
But there are also celebrations of friendships, of the brotherhood
Oh my brothers and sisters, he is so kind, despite the losses
that have made us this sad.
Five blocks of sidewalk chalk he steers us clear of. Blue ice skaters
Karen Peris / migration
friend is starting over. There is a trembling. Today, today is trembling
through the trees. Karen Peris / today
I want to be like Sister Veronica, whose life connects with
so many lives.
Karen Peris / small planes
Musically, Small Planes reflects old and new influences, owing as
much to the Chicago-based Palace Music and to Tom Waits Bone
Machine as it does to their beloved Neil Young and Simon and Garfunkel
records. As on Birds of My Neighborhood and Glow there is the wonderful
marriage of Dons gorgeously warm and shimmering electric guitars
with Karens folky acoustic guitar strumming and spare piano
melodies. But here, in songs like Rooftop and Today,
there is a new intensity to the playing of the four friends, and
moments when drums, bass, guitars and piano soar with joyful abandon.