Two Ears Up

A few days ago, I blogged about the Welcome Wagon album that Vito and Monque Aiuto (who hold the Guinness Book of World Records prize for “highest proportion of vowels to consonants in the last name of a recoding artist”); I hadn’t had time to listen to it, but I was excited even to be asked to promote the project. To be candid, I was a little bit uneasy, too; I wrote about the album before I listened to it, in case it turned out that I didn’t like it.
After having given it a listen, though, I’m positively delighted by it. It bears the clear imprint of Sufjan Stevens’s production, but for this album the production sounds less like “oh, that’s Sufjan Stevens” and more like “this is the way these performances ought to sound.” Welcome Wagon lays claim to a variety of songs from traditional folk/church music to recent compositions to some of their own works, and presents them with a consistent, organic sense of their musical vocation. I hear Ben Harper, the classic sound of blues-gospel couples (the Elders McIntorsh, Blind Willie and Willie B. Johnson), the Band, as produced by Stevens. I like Welcome to the Welcome Wagon a lot; Sufjan Stevens fans should like it; fans of primitive gospel music should like it (at least, if they’re not Stevens-averse, since the arrangements really are straight out of the the Stevens repertoire), and some people should like it for none of the above reasons. It’s due for release on December 9, but you can download one of the selections right now. Both of my ears recommend the album enthusiastically.

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