When you come across a unique collection of songs that straddles the line of inspiring and strange, there's a good chance your opinion might sound crazy to all of your friends. In regards to The Welcome Wagon, this is very true. But at the end of the day, you will be left pondering the stirring peculiar sounds that your ears consumed. Is this music just plain weird or is it one of the best things you've ever heard? Take heart my music listening friends, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices may just be both.
The album opens with the reflective and awkwardly uplifting "I'm Not Fine," featuring a 70's-esque tone that you might hear on The Partridge Family reruns. As you hear the words sung by Vito, who leads The Welcome Wagon alongside his wife, Monique, you might be confused because they don't sound very comforting, "I'm not fine, and you're not fine, and we're not fine together." These contemplative words really point to the human condition of sinfulness and our need for a savior. This bright music contrasts perfectly with the darkness of the lyrics. This is followed beautifully by the two-part "My God, My God." The first part features Monique's haunting soft voice which adds to the depth of singing Matthew 27:46, but develops into a second part that declares trusting the Lord through hard times. It is genius to use this approach as it states a problem and then a solution. This same two-part method is used on "My Best Days," including indie-superstar Sufjan Stevens singing backup.
"I Know That My Redeemer Lives" introduces a more raw folk feeling to the album and its theme is simple; Jesus is our everything and He is alive. That simplicity, musically and lyrically, is executed so well that the song is truly a standout track and could be used in private and corporate worship settings. "Rice and Beans (But No Beans)" continues in the folksy feeling but with a comical slant. However, the theme of the communal church shines through as Vito and a beautiful choir sing, "At the end of the day I'm glad to have a friend like you." The Wagon's folk-fusion sound is excellent to say the least. However, nothing could have prepared me for the folk rendition of David Crowder's "Remedy." It is extremely different from the original--to the point where you wouldn't know they were the same song. Love it or hate it, you will not stop thinking about it for days after hearing it through your speakers. Now that says something.
Hands down the best track on the album is "Would You Come and See Me In New York." Musically, it pulls on the heartstrings, and then to know that the song is a tribute to Vito's late father makes this song an emotional journey. That emotional feeling continues on the number finishing hymns, of which "The Strife is O'er" blows the rest out of the water. Plus it lends itself to church services looking for a wonderful song with strong Biblical truth and musical beauty.
The album concludes in two ways: a benediction, "God Be With You Til We Meet Again," and what The Wagon calls a 'snapshot' of how their music is developed with "Nature's Goodnight." Both are gorgeous and leave the listener with a very pleasant experience.
The Welcome Wagon is by far one of the most unique bands I have come across. Their music can't be compared to too many contemporaries, their voices are simple, and their lyrics are compelling. There will be some who are instantly turned off by their music, but I think there are many more who will be awestruck. Hopefully we get the privilege of listening to this lovely couple sing for many many years to come--at least, that is, when they find time to record, as they pastor Resurrection Presbyterian in Brooklyn, New York. Worship leaders, if you want something different--and I mean DIFFERENT--this is truly the one for you. In my opinion, everyone needs to join The Welcome Wagon.
- Review date: 6/20/12, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com