The Rev. Vito Aiuto and his wife, Monique, think their music is more homey than hipster.
“Our music is kind of like a homemade sweater instead of a really nice cashmere one,” Vito said. “We don’t mind if some of the seams show.” The couple records as the folk duo The Welcome Wagon, and their second album, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, was released June 12. The album welcomes listeners — hipsters or not — to the healing of Jesus.
The album takes its title from Thomas Brooks’ 17th century Puritan classic with the same name, and mixed in with original lyrics written by Vito are texts from traditional hymnody, a few cover songs, and a John Donne poem. “We hope God will use this to be spiritual medicine, that the Holy Spirit will use it to help people know God’s love better and to increase their faith in Christ,” Vito said.
The band’s name alludes to the hospitality Vito and Monique show in their home as well as the sort of place they believe the church should be. Aiuto pastors Resurrection Presbyterian Church, and the couple tries to make it a welcoming place for everyone, not just the young, fashion-forward types who frequent the area around the church in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.
“There are a lot of artists in Williamsburg, but we very actively decided not to be a church for artists,” Aiuto said. “I want young people and old people and artists and nonartists and rich people and poor people all to be living together in the gospel.”
The Welcome Wagon is signed to Asthmatic Kitty Records, a mainstream record label owned in part by the Aiutos’ friend and fellow musician Sufjan Stevens. Being on a mainstream label gives the Aiutos a chance to attract and engage listeners who are not Christians.
“I’ve seen and read and talked with people who’ve said, ‘I don’t believe any of this, but I like the music.’ I’m glad [for those opportunities],” Vito said. “I want to be able to communicate with and be speaking into people’s lives who might not share my beliefs. That’s what I want for my church, too.”
In both their style and lyrics, the Aiutos embrace their rough edges. Starting with the album’s opening track, “I’m Not Fine,” the songs speak frankly about sin and suffering. “I don’t always live it out well, but the goal is to be faithful to Jesus,” Aiuto said. “We don’t want to camp out in lament, but lament is part of worship, too.”
The Welcome Wagon’s music is an outgrowth of the couple’s family worship, and the songs maintain their sense of reverence and intimacy. “I think of it as worship, training my body, soul, mind, and voice as instruments of worship,” Monique said. “Even just practicing with Vito at home is an act of worship, and singing is just a joy.
The Welcome Wagon offers homey, humble music pointing the listener to the great Musician and Physician, Jesus Christ.