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“I 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 band’s 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. “It’s 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 of man.”

“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 and animals.”
Karen Peris / migration

“My 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 Don’s gorgeously warm and shimmering electric guitars with Karen’s 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.



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