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Prior to the release of Songs From the Mission of Hope, Stephen Harris had a career as a sideman, contributing bass to Metal and Rock acts such as The Cult, Guns N' Roses, and Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction (all under the pseudonyms of Kid Chaos and Haggis).
'Songs from the Mission of Hope surprisingly takes a singer/songwriter-oriented bent and reveals a man whose thoughts and ideas dig far deeper than the bands with which he most frequently has been associated.
However, this profound transformation didn't come without its cost. In order to get to where he is today, Harris suffered a severe bout of depression. At the suggestion of his doctor, he went in search of his birth mother, and after finding her, he discovered that she had been raised at The Mission of Hope orphanage in Croydon, England. It was this exploration of his familial history that served as the catalyst for pushing Harris back into the recording studio in order to lay down the ten tracks that became Songs from the Mission of Hope. While the album is conceptual in nature, it's not so much a straightforward storyline as it is a loosely-knit collection of snapshots and memories that touch upon the lives of Harris and his family. Indeed, without further insight, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly how all of the songs tie together, save for the overriding themes of lost love, pain, heartache, and the difficulty of coping with one's emotions.
Not that it really matters whether there is a story arc or not. Songs from the Mission of Hope is an absorbing endeavor, and its songs are stunningly beautiful, flowing together in a way that gives the album a warm and inviting glow. Its gentle folk-pop melodies recall the tranquil transcendence of John Wesley Harding's masterpiece Awake or The Who's FM-radio staple Behind Blue Eyes. Most interesting of all is the manner in which Harris reconstructs the songwriting style of XTC, turning the orchestrated pop of Mummer and Apple Venus, Volume 1 into something that is decidedly more roots-oriented. In other words, Songs from the Mission of Hope is not only an interesting twist in the career of Stephen Harris, it's also a welcome reminder that there is some truly tremendous music being made that lies far outside the realm of the major labels.'
- John Metzger, http://www.musicbox-online.com
1. The Boy With The Gold Adidas 3:57
2. Lion Tamer, Chelsea Diner 5:30
3. A Letter From The Holy Land 4:04
4. Oh Marie 3:37
5. Velcro Madonna 5:20
1. Broken Shoes 3:15
2. There's Only One Woman 4:44
3. Back To The Sea 3:13
4. Angel & The Astronaut (Mission Of Hope) 4:26
5. Home To Me 2:02