Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This is one weird album. ´Pastor and wife join voices in sacred folk songs for All Ages´ it says on the beautiful sleeve of Welcome To The Welcome Wagon (´08). There´s a bible pictured there too, with a cross and the written legend ´To Comfort You´ on it. Maybe I´m a bit naive, but just for a moment I thought the Welcome Wagon´s debut album would be some tongue in cheek, indie style gospel album. You know, camp. What else would you expect from a record on a label that calls itself Asthmatic Kitty?

But behold, I soon found out the overt Christian message here is as serious as it can possibly get. The minds behind the Welcome Wagon are the Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique. The good Reverend attended Princeton Theological Seminary to study theology and prepare for ordained ministry. Currently he is the senior pastor of the Resurrection Presbyterian Church, a church he established a few years back in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Heavy stuff.

To be honest, I usually don´t really dig religious propaganda in music. I can handle the Jesus trip in vintage blues, soul and gospel very well, but as a faithful Bobcat I had enough trouble coming to terms with Dylan´s late seventies/early eighties religious phase for instance. So it´s a small miracle that despite all the preaching going on in every song, the Welcome Wagon immediately drew me in. Why? Because there are some terrific songs to be found here amidst the bible quotations. And let´s not forget the contribution of Sufjan Stevens, who produced and arranged this remarkably warm and soulful album like a modern day cross between Brian Wilson and Phil Spector.

Stevens skilfully added horns, synths and funky backing vocals to what otherwise would probably have been a rather boring, let´s-sit-by-the-campfire-and-praise-the-lord record. To be honest, not every track makes the grade here, and their cover of Jesus is pure sacrilege to a Velvet Underground convert. But when it works, as in the heavenly Sold! To The Nice Rich Man or He Never Said A Mumblin´ Word for instance, the angels are sure to be smiling down. On Christians and atheists alike.

The Welcome Wagon - Sold! To The Nice Rich Man MP3
The Welcome Wagon - He Never Said A Mumblin´ Word MP3

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