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The Welcome Wagon

June 10, 2009

If you’re interested in listening to some quality folk recordings from a Brooklyn-based pastor and his wife Monique, then may I humbly suggest the band The Welcome Wagon who are on Sufjan Steven’s label Asthmatic Kitty?

The Welcome Wagon’s music is decidedly Christian but, unlike most Christian artists, they make good music.  Their first album, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon (released in late 2008 so I’m fairly late to the party), is produced, mixed, recorded, and just about everything but hand-delivered to the listener by Sufjan Stevens and his influence is evident.  It doesn’t hurt that Rev. Vito Aiuto sounds surprisingly like Mr. Stevens and, too, has a penchant for grand orchestration behind a simple banjo or acoustic guitar part.

Monique has a pleasant and quite innocent voice that fits well within the songs and the typical role of pastor’s wife. The group is certainly not ignoring the irony of a pastor-and-wife becoming indie recording artists.  The album art is a veritable homage to church-themed kitsch that, somehow, works.

Overall, the album is a winner that is unobtrusive but tends to stick in the ears.  The grandiose nature of Stevens’ production is tempered by the deep folk roots of Christian hymnody that lives in the music of Rev. Vito and Monique.

For further reading, Sufjan himself has undertaken the task of offering his theological explication of the lyrics of the songs of the album in the Asthmatic Kitty sidebar blog. Enjoy!

h/t: this paper ship and Sojourners Culture Watch

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