Customer Reviews: Innocence Mission
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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on September 20, 2003
I found this CD after being discharged from the army in 1989: a young man with a head resonating with the commands to "kill" while searching, striving for the peace I once knew. This album was healing, to say the least. If there's ever a gift music bestows, it only matters if the music is made. Thank God this music was made. I haven't listened to this CD for ages, but I can still hear "I write in my notebook, with feeling that takes me by surprise, museums on Sunday..." Never preachy, but offering subtle suggestions of how to heal--that inside job.
I hope the Innocence Mission reads this review. I hope they realize 14 years ago they helped someone heal. Sorry so late in saying so...
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on March 23, 2000
I was first introduced to this band in 1989 by a friend who lived nearby the band in PA. I made a copy of his tape and listened to it until the tape disintegrated. I was lucky enough to see them live in Northampton, MA in a little smoke filled ambient venue called the Iron Horse. When Karen came on stage, diminutive and unassuming, I was hardly prepared for the levels her etheral and mystical voice would reach. I suppose everyone in town heard her and was moved. That same ability to remove you from this world and to become entangled in the vocal, acoustic and lyrical wizardry exists in this incredibly timeless record. If you are "curious", you must check this one out....a true classic.
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on September 13, 1999
I am also a fan of The Innocence Mission and have loved all their releases, but the debut one still remains the best. Karen sounds beautiful on Black Sheep Wall, Mercy, Clear To You and Chase the Light. Far from being "overproduced," it is a haunting album full of strings, guitars, pianos and beautifully crafted music. It seems the band decided to go in a different direction after this album, and Karen's voice has changed. She sounds very husky and dark on this, where on the last three cds she's adopted this almost childlike quality to her voice. When I think of The Innocence Mission, I always think of this cd. It's fantastic
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on January 25, 2003
I, like many, became an innocence mission fan through the "Empire Records" soundtrack. Something about that voice, that captured me and I knew I needed to buy more. So I bought "Glow", and 6 years later it still stands as one of my Top 5 Favourite records.
Like any new and crazed fan, I searched all over for their other records, and after a lucky day in a used CD store I bought this one. At first, I was slightly put off by the inescapable "1988 -ness" of the production, and the Kate Bush-esque vocal stylings. I was used to a more pared-down sound, and Karen's new, quieter voice. After a few listens, though, some tracks really began to stand out - "Curious", "Paper Dolls", "Notebook"...and I was hooked.
What really makes this record beautiful, however, is the writing. The melodies stand on their own through the dated production, and the lyrics...Karen Peris is quite simply one of the best lyricists out there. She can write about the simplest things - church, family, brother's new fiancée, self-doubt - and they just make so much sense. Sometimes, these themes dance on the border of trite, but they never quite cross it. The star-crossed love story of "You Chase the Light" has actually made me cry, thinking about this poor woman who can't deal with her love for an artist because she's grown up so differently. "I Remember Me" tells the story of Anastasia from Russia, with a better beat than the animated movie (ha).
My two favourite tracks are without a doubt "Wonder of Birds" and "Medjugorje". I'm nowhere near Catholic, but it doesn't matter. These songs are too beautiful - the way the guitars wrap around the melodies, the sheer intensity of the search for hope...this album takes a little getting used to, but it's a good listen and a worthwhile purchase.
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on March 25, 2004
I'll never forget the day I first heard this album 15 years ago. I'd caught the video for "Wonder of Birds" on VH1 and it sparked an interest in getting the CD. From the very first note, this album just made me quiver inside. IM is not a band for everyone, but if your inner self is on the same plane as they are, their music will grip you like no other band will.
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on April 28, 2002
People in "trendy" circles would always have reviled this album as "too religious" on merely reading at a glance the lyrics to "Broken Circle" or "Medjugorje".
Yet, pious as she is, Karen Peris largely avoided religious themes throughout most of this album. Though its somewhat muted sound cries "80s", her ability to write simple, yet beautiful and catchy, tunes was most unusual. And her lyrics certainly were unusual, as on "Black Sheep Wall" (about a paradoxical romance), "Curious" (about the marriage of her eldest brother), "Come Around and See Me", and the brilliant "Surreal", dealing with the need to forget everyday pressures on us. Moreover, Peris surpassed Kate Bush or Jane Siberry for singing ability, singing with an incredibly pure beauty throughout the record. Larry Klein's sparse production was a blessing in itself, being well-suited to Peris' voice and allowing Karen's husband Don Peris to produce some impressive guitar lines, especially the acoutic guitar on "Mercy" and the tuneful lines of "Clear To You."
"Mercy" doubts how piously religious the Perises really are ("There are no fires of hell/There is only mercy, I believe"), and also shows her at her absolute best vocally - rarely does one see such a pure soprano voice. {Some lyric sheets have "There are no fires in hell/There is only mercy, I believe"}. Yet, despite her religious nature, Karen Peris does not appear otherworldly, especially on "Curious", "Clear To You", and the anthemic "Broken Circle." Like Paddy McAloon on "When Love Breaks Down" and "The Venus of The Soup Kitchen", Karen Peris can present unfashionable themes in a very modern way. Her ability to show feeling for those affected by family breakdowns is apparent in her vocal on that song, whilst "Wonder of Birds" gives similar doubts to "Mercy" with is mystical theme - no doubt the line "we learn to dance with broomstick partners" would encourage listeners to check out "Hounds of Love" or "The Red Shoes."
In summary, if you are not obssessed with radical politics or witchcraft, a record you would be well advised to have in your collection
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on November 18, 1999
I bought this album when it came out almost ten years ago and still listen to it quite frequently. The songs are extraordinary--haunting, complex, beautiful. Karen's voice, one of the great unknown instruments in modern music, is as unforgettable as the music and lyrics she sings. The production (NOT over-done, by the way)frames the proceedings in a shimmering, vaguely icey glow. In other words, it--like everything on this CD--is perfect. While each song is memorable and thought-provoking in its own way, the highlights are "Black Sheep Wall", "Clear to You", "Wonder of Birds" and "I Remember Me". A stunning album, to put it mildly.
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on November 2, 2001
My first IM purchase was "Umbrella", which led me to pick up "The Innocence Mission". For me, this album absolutely takes off after the first two songs, which don't sound at all like the remainder of the album. Once you get to "Surreal" you're engulfed in flat out beautiful, thoughtful songs. Karen Peris's voice was a revelation when I first heard it, and it still captivates. And IM creates musical settings that compliment that heavenly voice perfectly. Get this one as well as "Umbrella" and bathe in the beauty of IM.
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on December 8, 2006
This album is a masterpiece. It stands the test of time. I was a young and angry man when I first bought this cassette tape, it was one of the first beautiful things that resonated with me. I'm not sure why I chose it, I bought it when it was released. Years passed, musical avenues opened, and tapes were packed away and forgotten. I stumbled across a mention of IM, and wondered what they were up to. I listened to some samples of their newer songs, later buying some and falling in love with melancholy songs like Migration, Lakes of Canada, and Where Does the Time Go. I came to amazon and played snippets of the songs on this album, their debut. Immediately the impact was as strong as it was years ago, and I rooted through all of the packed away stuff I had because I had to listen to those songs NOW. I am now more than a week into the rediscovery of this, in my opinion, one of the best albums from anyone, ever. I can't believe how good it is.

I am an atheist and a huge fan of very hard, intense music, yet this touches me as few things ever have. Joni Mitchell comes close, but Karen Peris' voice in combination with her lyrics are an incredibly poignant combination, and none more so than the songs on this collection. For anyone who finds that there is beauty in melancholy, check out this album. Inspiration like this is a rare and gorgeous thing.
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on August 30, 2001
The Innocence Mission should not be pigeonholed, try this one out and you will very likely hear something unique. Karen Peris has an other-worldly voice that can strike deep chords. The guitar playing is unique as well, and strikes the right balance with the voice. Topped off with very thoughtful stories and lyrics, this is an excellent album.
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