(Spikesmusic) from BELLINGHAM, WA
Reviewed on 6/27/2012...
The first two full-length albums from the Innocence Mission are the self-titled LP and Umbrella. On A&M Records, they were produced by Larry Klein (a.k.a. the former Mr. Joni Mitchell.) These struck me as a combination of fascinating (if sometimes cryptic)lyrics, interesting instrumentation, a vocalist who was shy about either her voice (but had no reason to be, what a gift!) and production that brought to mind The Sundays and The Cocteau Twins.
On Glow, the third album, they set out with producer Dennis Herring (of Camper Van Beethoven fame)who worked with IM to strip away a few layers of sound production. It is still polished (in a good way) but there is much less in the way of synthesized keyboard sounds and heavy drumbeats, etc. The warmth of Karen Peris' vocals comes through, along with some tasty guitar and bass work. The feeling is still personal, in the sense that I carry pictures in my mind that accompany with these songs. (Disclaimer: my grandparents lived in their home town of Lancaster, PA, so I envision them in that house, in that neighborhood.)
As far as their religiousity, it is a part of their lives and it is subtly reflected from time to time. They don't beat the listener over the head, but they don't have to. When the IM list-serve was active, believers, agnostics, atheists and everyone in between happily coexisted in appreciation of this talented ensemble. (And we're all hoping they will tour again!)
Although I love the work on the first two albums, I see Glow as the collection where they really start to find their own sounds. This is one of my "go-to" albums, which I pull out for any number of moods. If I had to whittle down my over-sized collection by 90%, Glow would still remain.