Sounds like … Sufjan Stevens, Danielson, Half-handed Cloud, and other indie-pop eccentrics.

At a glance … the titular performers notwithstanding, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon is the best album Sufjan Stevens never released with its quirky, worshipful indie folk sound.

Aside from his annual Christmas releases, it would seem that Sufjan Stevens has taken a self-imposed hiatus from recording after the release of his universally acclaimed 2005 release Illinois. Some have speculated that all the breathless adoration he's received took a toll, forcing him to steal away into exile, far from the press and the maddening crowds. But Stevens can't help but keep creating, and Welcome to the Welcome Wagon is the latest in a long list of side projects.

In an extensive essay included in the disc's liner notes, Stevens goes to great lengths to explain away his involvement—he's not much for drawing attention to himself, doing his best to decrease so that The Welcome Wagon may increase. Despite his efforts, Stevens is in full control here as an arranger, producer, and micromanager. Close your eyes, and the album is essentially a glorified b-sides collection from Stevens in step with Seven Swans, Steven's more minimalist and spiritual predecessor to Illinois.

In other words, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon is the best album Stevens never released. It's rife with biblical imagery, overzealous backup vocalists, a symphony of indie pop/folk instrumentation, and a child-like warmth that's nearly impossible to resist. Though perhaps a little too obvious and indiscreet about its points of reference, this is nonetheless a delightfully artful listen.

As for The Welcome Wagon, they at least deserve some credit. The husband-and-wife duo—comprised ...

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Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
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Release Date
December 1, 2008
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