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The Innocence Mission
My Room In The Trees
Badman Recording Co.
www.theinnocencemission.com


Sometimes when a band strips down to their base elements, they discover a sort of simple beauty that can be lost when too much is added to the song. It's the basic idea of the old adage, "Keep it simple, stupid." The Innocence Mission is a band that has that idea down to a science. Husband and wife duo Don & Karen Peris have fronted the band for twenty years now, and have consistently put out music that is soft, subtle, and beautiful. Their new album My Room In The Trees continues that legacy with a collection of simple and moving songs that will transport the listener to another place.

Where to begin on this one? Perhaps with the song that was the biggest surprise; "God Is Love." Yes, it's a simple title and you'd expect it to be full of clichés or sound really trite, but that is where you'd be wrong. Instead, it has some simple and poetic musings on the world and observes that, "Rain or shine/This street of mine is golden." The chorus is then something that is earned, and Karen's vocals make it sound as sincere as anything. It is a lovely little song that shows the band's creative ability even with normally cliché concepts. Another standout is "Rain (Setting Out In The Leaf Boat)," which has a subdued musical backdrop for this quiet folk song, where Karen's voice creates a mood of floating in a boat, just laying back and letting the water carry you. The violin interludes between verses are just gorgeous and really add another layer of beauty to the song.

"Rhode Island" is a slow song that sounds like a fast song. The guitar is gently picked in such a way that makes the song seem like it's moving along faster than it really is, and Karen singing at a more relaxed pace creates a nice texture to the music. It's probably the most peaceful song ever written about Rhode Island. "I'd Follow If I Could" does something similar, with the music and vocals seeming to go at different speeds, giving the listener a few layers of sound to sift through without seeming overpowering. It's a short song, which works in its favor since it could have become less interesting if it went on for too much longer than its two-minute length.

I know I keep mentioning Karen's voice a lot. It really is the center of these songs, since they're very sparse and focus on soft music providing a backdrop for Karen to sing the main melody. She has a beautiful, emotive voice that sounds something like if you took Bjork, lowered her tone to something more qiuet and subtle, and had her sing more normal melodies. Not a perfect comparison, but that is the first thing that springs to mind.

This album is a must own for fans of quiet folk bands, poetic lyrics, gorgeous melodies, and lovely singing voices. It has something for everyone and I can't imagine anyone coming away from this album without finding something to enjoy. It is a prime example of using music to paint a picture that surpasses what mere words could get across and is a contender for the best album released this year.

-Brenden Kirch

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