IN THE 17TH century, Thomas Brooks published the devotional Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, which he hoped would serve as a “salve for sores” and a “remedy against malady,” to provide those who face hardship with nourishment, support, and cheer to continue God’s work in themselves and the world.
It’s no coincidence that The Welcome Wagon borrows Brooks’ title for its second LP. In unsettling economic and political climates, the married gospel-folk duo of Vito and Monique Aiuto write songs that offer a balm of spiritual medicine to heal their congregation and wider audience.
Before the Aiutos gained a musical presence, Vito worked at a Presbyterian church in Manhattan and was a minister to students at New York University. Six years ago he helped found Resurrection Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Brooklyn, where he and Monique continue to serve a young, diverse congregation.
In their ministry at Resurrection, they released their first album in 2008 (Welcome to The Welcome Wagon); close friend and indie music icon Sufjan Stevens helped record and produce it. The album was met with high acclaim and sounded like a natural extension of Stevens’ own catalogue. With a popular musical ally and an overtly spiritual foundation, The Welcome Wagon yielded an unlikely coupling: the hip and the religious.
In a New York Times article titled “A Congregation in Skinny Jeans,” Vito confronts this, saying that while he may fit the “cool” bill, it’s an unhelpful way to describe a church community. Despite his tweed jacket and gentleman’s cap, he’d prefer to be known for his personhood and for speaking honestly.