Top positive review
on January 7, 2004
On Befriended, The Innocence Mission become the genteel group that those of us who adored their dreamy early work feared they might become. They were always the kindest of groups, relying on Karen Peris's thin, ethereal voice and Don Peris's wistful guitar. They were the American version of the Cocteau Twins - spacey yet accessible. Peris sang of simple family situations with clarity and concern. If she was precious, she didn't mask her pretensions behind an invented language. Befriended is calmer than usual. The death of her beloved mother didn't unmask demons in Peris, just reinforced a forthright decency that is a breath of fresh air. Like their early work, the folksier direction is as straightforward as can be expected. Peris continues to find generous edges in her stories of the everyday. A departing friend is cause for self-effacement in "Tomorrow on the Runway". She eulogizes her mother's loss with a plaintive "You were here, and I never knew you from the sun." On the crowning "When Mac Was Swimming", she treats the planning of a surprise party as the occasion for a stark rumination. "Nobody knows how they are loved," she tells the guest of honor, even when they are surrounded in celebration.