Style: Homespun folk; compare to Damien Jurado, Sufjan Stevens, Gram Parsons
Top tracks: "My Best Days, Parts 1 & 2," "Rice & Beans (But No Beans)," "High"
The Welcome Wagon's 2008 debut, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon, was widely praised. But a few thought it sounded a bit too much like a Sufjan Stevens album—it was, after all, produced by Stevens, included many instrumental and vocal contributions from Stevens, and was even released on Stevens's record label, Asthmatic Kitty. CT's own review even called it "essentially a glorified b-sides collection" from Stevens.
While their new album, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, is dedicated to Stevens, his appearances are brief and discreet. Recorded at an old rectory in Brooklyn with warm production from Alexander Foote, the new record is similar in its folksy style but belongs wholly to Vito Aiuto—pastor of Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood—and his wife, Monique.
Vito Aiuto loosely structured this album after the type of liturgy you're likely to see at Resurrection or any other Presbyterian church—which is to say, it's something like a picture of the gospel itself. The beauty of a good liturgy is the way it walks a participant (believing or not) through the message: confession of sin, promise of redemption, joyful response, etc.
Precious Remedies has all those elements and then some. There's a simple, gorgeous cover of The Cure's "High," which here serves as a love letter from Aiuto to his wife. "Would You Come and See Me in New York?" finds him asking the title's question to his late father in plainspoken yet heartbreaking fashion. "Rice & Beans (But No Beans)" is a meditation on community done with pedal-steel ...1