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Welcome To The Welcome Wagon
Artist:  The Welcome Wagon
Label:  Asthmatic Kitty
Time:  12 Tracks / 46 MInutes 

The Welcome Wagon are composed of the husband and wife team of Thomas and Monique Aiuto.  They live in Brooklyn, NY and he is the senior pastor of the Resurrection Presbyterian Church.  Their disc, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon, though released late in 2008 has officially become my favorite disc of 2009.  

The record is full songs from Old Testament psalters to 17th century hymns, all the way up to songs from the 60ís (Velvet Underground) and 80ís (The Smiths).  If that sounds like a wide variety of material to cover, it is, but the Welcome Wagon pull it off gorgeously.  Yes, there are even some originals mixed in for good measure.  

The record which was recorded over the course of eight years, was recorded in churches, home studios, and living rooms.  They gathered together a bunch of friends from their church, a gospel choir, lap steel, and even a brass ensemble to bring you this record.  Sometimes the recording was done right after dinner as they removed the dishes and brought out the guitars and microphones.

You should know that Sufjan Stevens did produce this fine record.  Whether you like Sufjanís musical styles or not should not dissuade you from listening to this disc.  Yes, Sufjan dresses up these songs with various production styles.  You get his epic flourishes of Broadway Theater as well as some honky-tonk, however the songs donít get lost in the production.

The disc doesnít impose a religious message so much as it conveys a deep sense of conviction that the Aiutoís have regarding their faith.  So what you get after you remove all the guitar licks, piano codas, and rowdy choruses, is a pastor and his wife singing some songs, some sacred, some not.  Fortunately for us, they opened up their front door so we could have a listen.

 
by Gar Saeger

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