Welcome to the Welcome Wagon[LP]
New album Recorded, produced, and arranged by Sufjan Stevens. The Welcome Wagon observe a musical tradition conjoined with marriage that pays tribute to a long line of iconic couples-Johnny Cash and June Carter, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina, Captain and Tennille, and more recently, the White Stripes. This debut album by the Welcome Wagon unveils a ramshackle 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-humored. 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's 'Jesus'), to charismatic Catholics of the 1970s (Lenny Smith), and even into the melancholy lovelorn pop of the 1980s (The Smiths' 'Half a Person'). Armed with a particleboard parlor guitar and a plastic glockenspiel, pastor and wife stumble their way through an arresting catalog of hymns-hallowed and unholy-with the simple desire to know their Maker-and to know each other-more intimately! The result- due, in part, to producer/arranger Sufjan Stevens-is an awe-inspiring collection of hymns, pop covers, and originals that render soulful stunts from quiet skirmishes of home recordings. Sufjan enlivens the Welcome Wagon's quaint haberdashery of songs with epic flourishes, drawing out allusions to honky-tonk, Broadway theater, and funk with the curatorial eye of an over-excited musicologist.
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