Befriended is the Innocence Mission’s seventh full-length album in its 17-year career, and probably its best. It’s marked by slow, deliberate cadences delivered by gently strummed acoustic guitars, lightly plunked piano keys, and waves of tremolo that shimmer like summer blacktop.
Then there is singer Karen Peris’ distinctive warble, a voice with obvious similarities to Natalie Merchant and the Sundays’ Harriett Wheeler, but given a personal touch on the strength of lyrics that essay the charm of the everyday.
One can almost imagine the quaint rhythms of life for her and guitarist/husband Don Peris in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: enjoying a “leaf-bright Friday drive,” staring up at the sky to see vistas “where pink and green arrive” and “clouds change into reindeer,” or mourning the loss of a loved one every time you put your hands inside your coat pockets. What may at first seem fragile becomes, instead, a journey toward a rendezvous with grace.