Review Summary: A lovely record for all ages
As an adult (a young one, but getting older everyday), it’s always interesting to look back on childhood. For those of us fortunate enough to have had a decently happy early life, there’s something inherently nostalgic about the whole exercise, but it’s hard to put yourself properly back in the mindset of your younger days. For me at least, the defining traits of childhood were a simultaneous sense of mystery about life and a feeling of constancy and ordered routine, resulting together in days and weeks passing slowly, even as there were a host of unexplored possibilities in all directions. Looking back as an adult, feeling the time go by all too fast, and having a jaded sense about the world’s realities, it’s tough to recapture that mindset. That’s what makes musician Karen Peris’ second solo effort, A Song Is Way Above The Lawn
, so valuable. Peris, most famous as the lead singer and songwriter for indie band The Innocence Mission, bills this album as music for both children and adults, and as she puts it, a chance to “re-travel some of the wide expanse of childhood imagination and wonder”. The end result is a mellow listen which feels pure and innocent, and may well evoke nostalgia and emotion in even the most world-weary adults.
The album’s two defining characteristics are, first, a positive and warm outlook exploring a host of whimsical topics which will appeal to the inner child in all of us (regardless of age) and, second, its mild but sophisticated take on chamber pop/folk. Together, the album works wonderfully, producing a widely-appealing product. The peaceful music evokes a sense of home, even amidst the hubbub of urban living, and calls to mind sunny days, walks in the park, and comforting family excursions. It helps that the songs are absolutely pristine. While the energy factor here is quite low, every one of the album’s ten brief tracks are stunningly pretty. They are primarily piano-driven, but a veritable orchestra of other instruments assist (played either by Karen Peris or her husband or her two children, appropriately this a family project). Accordion and strings in particular add a wondrous quality, alongside the singer-songwriter’s gorgeously reedy vocals. This is a remarkably consistent effort, but perhaps my favorite two tracks would be the wholesome “This Is A Song In Wintertime” and the pastoral “For A Giraffe”.
A Song Is Way Above The Lawn
is very much a mood album. It’s a laid-back and positively drowsy listen which will only fully hit when one is in the proper headspace (at least for adults). When the feeling’s right, though, this is a proper stunner. A set of polished and perfectly executed tracks which reach a nearly unique atmospheric angle, this record explores a variety of themes through references to animals, libraries, seasons, and other such staples of a child's existence. I may just be a childless adult (so what do I know?), but I wholeheartedly endorse this record for music lovers of all ages.