Innocence Mission Birds of My Neighborhood

After enjoying some moderate success in the early ’90s, Lancaster, PA’s Innocence Mission were left to their own indie devices after major label tastes shifted away from their softer brand of indie folk. Luckily, the husband and wife duo of Don and Karen Perlis soldiered on, and thanks to San Francisco’s Badman label, this charming 1999 release is enjoying a well-deserved new life. Armed only with only sparse, dreamy guitars and Karen Perlis’ fragile, childlike voice, it’s a good thing that their songs are so strong. This album pre-dates their move towards more religious material, and also includes their heartbreaking cover of John Denver’s "Follow Me.” Easily one of their finest albums, Birds of My Neighborhood is wonderful from start to finish. Tracks like "The Lakes of Canada,” "July” and "I Haven’t Seen This Day Before” radiate a stark beauty, and Don Perlis’ guitar work alone is enough to raise goose bumps. With a style similar to bands like the Sundays or 10,000 Maniacs, it’s a shame that the industry lost interest, because their songs just kept getting better. For fans of pretty-sounding acoustic music, this is an essential release. (Badman)