With 2003's Befriended
, the Innocence Mission continue the organic, supremely tasteful folk-pop first crafted on 1999's Birds of My Neighborhood
. Added to the wood-and-glass aesthetic are occasional traces of ambient synth strings, or a sun-soaked, delirious vibrato guitar. Lyrics of timorous optimism and familial devotion are woven into cascades of upright bass, brushes and tambourine, the tinkling ghost of a piano, and the snowy hollow-body electric guitar of Don Peris
. Primary songwriter Karen Peris
' impeccable sense of melody is carried out by her distinct voice, one of delicate timbre and piercing purity. The mood ranges from the breezy continental jazz of "When Mac Was Swimming" to the stark, tragic poeticism of the minor-keyed "I Never Knew You From the Sun"; the yearning, masterful chord changes of "Martha Avenue Love Song" to the sorrowfully patriotic love of "Look for Me as You Go By" at the album's resolution. "No Storms Come" is reprised (technically re-released) from the 2000 devotional collection Christ Is My Hope
. As usual, quality and individuality suffuse all angles of this installation to the Innocence Mission catalog.