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The Innocence Mission: Tiny Desk Concert

Some days, you can hear a go-go band revving up the party or a pianist busting the keys wide open, luring NPR staff to the Tiny Desk. But in the hushed performances, your ears need to lean into the sound so that your entire being can take in every fingerpick of string and each hummed melody. The Innocence Mission, ever the most careful cultivators of quiet, encouraged us to come closer, to discover the "thing beautiful enough" in the moment it's delivered.

The trio — now three decades into its existence — bookends this performance with two songs from 2018's Sun on the Square. "Green Bus" and "Light of Winter" thread the long and winding needle of Karen Peris' evocative words with her husband Don Peris' decorative-but-nuanced guitar and Mike Bitts' deft bass lines. In some of my favorite lyrics of the year, Karen Peris tangles the tender and the tempestuous:

And what could I bring you,
now in the meantime?
Fruit from the sunlight,
quartz from the bay?
And where will I find this,
perfect and wondrous?
I look into shops,
I slip into rain.

Between those newer songs, The Innocence Mission plays "Tomorrow on the Runway," the opening cut from 2003's Befriended, which Iron & Wine recently covered in Stephanie Laing's film Irreplaceable You. Nursing a small cold, Peris' voice slightly breaks when she sings, "Did you still leave the darkness without me? You're always miles ahead" — but the humbling effect, however unintended, lingers in your being.

Set List

  • "Green Bus"
  • "Tomorrow on the Runway"
  • "Light of Winter"
  • Credits

    Producers: Lars Gotrich, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin;Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kaylee Domzalski, CJ Riculan; Editor: Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Brie Martin; Photo: Cameron Pollack/NPR

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