The Welcome Wagon, the betrothed duo of Reverend Thomas Vito and Monique Aiuto, sound a lot like Sufjan Stevens, the guy who produced and helped to arrange their debut album, Welcome To The Welcome Wagon. Stevens has a particularly distinctive/singular approach to composition. He’s added his horn, string, piano, vocal, etc., patterns to Vito and Monique’s more skeletal songs … kinda making them his songs. If you’re in want of a new Stevens album, here goes. Thematically, the Welcome Wagon’s approach to religion is more straightforward (I can’t imagine them singing about John Wayne Gacy). Songs like “Deep Were His Wounds, And Red,” “He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word,” “Hail To The Lord’s Anointed,” and “Jesus,” feel like actual liturgical hymns. But then, as often goes with AK bands, it’s not as straightforward as it seems. The accompanying press materials tells us:
A self-described agnostic, Vito experienced a spiritual conversion at the age of 20 and soon after enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary to study theology and prepare for ordained ministry. Currently he is the senior pastor of Resurrection Presbyterian Church, a church he planted in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, in 2005.
Musically, the Sufjan-y flourishes and instrumental swells are everywhere — at times, the duo even enunciate their lyrics in the same Stevens-style patterns . “Half A Person”‘s a little more understated in the SS department because it’s a Smiths song.
The Welcome Wagon – “Half A Person” (MP3)
Remember this version? The Welcome Wagon first showed up on AK in 2001 via the compilation To Spirit Back the Mews, which included the first song they ever wrote/recorded. To prove to yourself that I wasn’t shitting you about the likeness to Sufjan, you can listen to another Welcome To The Welcome Wagon track at MySpace.
[Photo by Emily Haselschwerdt]