While most clergy are known more for their sermons than their songwriting, there’s at least one pastor in Brooklyn who’s extremely gifted in both areas. The Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto, heads up The Welcome Wagon with his wife Monique and together, the two have formed an eclectic, folksy duo that combines original songs, hymns and some really tasty covers by the likes of The Smiths and Velvet Underground into a uniquely homespun sonic invitation. Their incredible debut album, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon, was produced by Sufjan Stevens and was released on Asthmatic Kitty Records in 2008. They ended up recording more tracks than they needed for the record and the unreleased tunes ended up coming out the next year as Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, the swanky four song EP they’re offering up here on NoiseTrade.
Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing consists of three sacred standards and a Welcome Wagon original in embryonic demo form. The EP kicks off with “O Christ Our Hope,” a Latin hymn from the 600’s (no that’s not missing a digit, it’s actually from the 7th century) that’s filtered through gorgeous lo-fi electric guitars, bouncy drums, bursts of brass and a cozy choir of friends. The version of “Up on a Mountain” found here is a simple demo of the opening track off of Welcome to the Welcome Wagon that features Vito, Monique and Sufjan sitting around a kitchen table and just letting the song quietly unfold. “I Am Not Skilled” (another reimagined hymn, this time from the 1800’s) revisits the quirky, fun feel of the first track with its tasty drum, horn, guitar, banjo and choir elements. The EP closes out with a gentle take on the popular hymn “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood,” featuring just Vito and Monique handling all of the vocal, guitar, banjo and keyboard duties. Whether performing as an intimate duo or being supported by a cast of talented friends, Vito and Monique have created something really special with this compelling EP.
The Welcome Wagon will be releasing their new album, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, on June 12 via Asthmatic Kitty. Here’s a cool video for the first single, “Would You Come and See Me in New York.”
When writer Will Hodge isn’t thinking the dress looks good on you, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack