One critic has called this gem "the greatest album Sufjan Stevens never recorded" and with the new folk eccentric producing and playing all manner of instruments on this debut by Rev Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique, and even the good reverend's voice resembling Sufjan, I know what she meant. This neo folk gospel set tells the old, old story in a way that only folk music can. This collection of material presents a quirky look into their musings over the last eight years, achieving something to be enjoyed by the youngest to the eldest. It would be no mean feat to fully dissect everything but in a proverbial nutshell "He Never Said a Mumblin' Word" displays the truth and intimacy of the writing, reflecting on the silence of Jesus throughout the crucifixion. On the other hand "Sold! To The Rich Man" shows that without over complicating, The Welcome Wagon are also capable of more full-bodied arrangements. It is quieter moments such as "Hail To The Lord's Anointed" that best shows off this duo. Monique's vocals shine delicately as the nuances gently whisk everything aside for those few moments to ponder the subject matter. As well as Rev Aiuto's compositions there are also two decidedly unexpected covers, Velvet Underground's "Jesus" which moves from a quiet guitar, voice and glockenspiel start to a big chorus with a full blooded gospel choir, and The Smiths' "Half A Person". Mike Rimmer named 'Welcome To The Welcome Wagon' one of the best albums of 2008. I wouldn't go that far though this is still a warm-hearted and fresh musical experience guaranteed to please fans of Sufjan, Danielson and any of the other left-of-centre acoustic eccentrics.
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The debut album and ramshackle sing-along enterprise of a Presbyterian pastor and his wife who are The Welcome Wagon.
This debut album by The Welcome Wagon unveils a ram-shackle sing-along enterprise of a Presbyterian pastor (The Rev Vito Aiuto) and his wife (Monique) wrestling out the influences of folk music, religion, popular culture, and church tradition in a collection of songs that is as soulful as it is good-humoured. This gorgeous brew is reflected in the group’s repertoire, which unflinchingly consolidates a vast history of ‘sacred’ song traditions: from old Testament psalms, to Presbyterian Psalters of the 17th century, to iconoclastic pop innovators of the 1960s (The Velvet Underground), to charismatic catholics of the 1970s (Lenny Smith), and even into the melancholy lovelorn pop of the 1980s (The Smiths).