The Welcome Wagon Announce New Album Light Up the Stairs

The Welcome Wagon
Image Courtesy of The Welcome Wagon

New York based gospel-folk duo The Welcome Wagon have just released their new album Light Up the Stairs, following a successful Kickstarter campaign

The Welcome Wagon make some of the sweetest Christen folk music going, heavily influenced by their label mate and producer Sufjan Stevens. In fact Light Up the Stairs will feature a cover of “The Greatest Gift”, written by Sufjan Stevens and recently released as the title track of his recent mixtape.

Check out the full track listing plus the lyric video for the album’s title track “Light Up The Stairs” below:

1. Galatians
2. All These Trees
3. HCQ1
4. In the Garden
5. Light up the Stairs
6. St. Tom’s Lullaby
7. The Outside Road
8. Maybe You’re Right
9. It’s so Hard
10. Lamb of God
11. The Greatest Gift

For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas 2011

For Folk's Sake
Image Courtesy of For Folk’s Sake

For the second year in a row awesome UK based indie-folk blog For Folk’s Sake is offering up a Christmas compilation featuring some really exciting artists recording original and traditional songs. While the vast majority of Christmas albums released each year are cringe worthy at best the For Folk’s Sake album is something you would actually wish on your friends and family during the holiday period.

Featuring artists such as The Leisure Society, Caitlin Rose and Darren Hayman, For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas 2011 is due for release on the 28th November with profits donated to the Integrated Cancer Centre at King’s Health Partners. The album can be pre-ordered via For Folk’s Sake’s Bandcamp and we have also embedded it below for your listening pleasure. For more information about For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas 2011 and For Folk’s Sake in general make sure you check out their official site.

Spotlight On: The Innocence Mission- An Atheist’s Experience of Religious Music

Image courtesy of The Innocence Mission

For a lot of people, religion and music go together like sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. After all, music is just audible expression. Spirituality flows into music through the mind of the artist, and back out again through the mind of the listener. Religious music isn’t always, but can certainly be mainstream enough that it breaches religious communities and becomes part and parcel of wider society. Sufjan Steven; a Timber & Steel favourite explores his faith in fantastic self-exploratory depth, and there is absolutely no doubt that he has written some of the most poignant pieces of music ever to reach my ears. So why do I have such an unrelenting hang-up about religious music, and why does my subconscious reject some artists and not others? It’s probably obvious by now that I am not a religious person. I am an atheist. I respect people’s faith and desperately wish my brain was wired in such a fashion which would allow it to unquestioningly believe convenient teachings. Alas, it is not. What I’ve come to realise recently is that there are two kinds of religious music, and the difference between the two lies in the motives.

Type 1) Extrospective Religious Music- Music which is made with the effect it will have on the listener in mind. Whenever I listen to this style of music, I inevitably feel like it is trying to sell me a faith, and I avoid it like the plague. It seems so dishonest and manipulative. The Welcome Wagon, an indie-folk two piece comprised of Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife, is just about where the line is drawn for me. Their album, which was produced by Sufjan Stevens incidentally, is filled with fantastic folk music that I only just feel comfortable listening to. It isn’t confrontingly preachy, but it is lyrically wound around religious teachings, rather than the human experience of that faith.

Type 2) Introspective Religious Music- Music which is fathered by religious faith, but is mothered by curiosity and a need to inwardly explore the individual spiritual ramifications of one’s religion. Music which explores human experience is altogether much more convincing and sincere, and wonderfully accessible to listeners. This is true even when religion is taken out of the equation. It seems backwards, but the most humble and inspired musicians tend to look inwards for inspiration, whilst the most self absorbed and shallow never think to analyse themselves. The subject of this article (which I will now introduce, 415 words in), Pennsylvanian folk-pop group The Innocence Mission, fall perfectly into the introspective category. Forgive the epic preamble, but I feel that a spotlight on this act without a solid foundation of context is a waste.

Believe it or not, The Innocence Mission have been around for over 20 years… You certainly wouldn’t know it from hearing them. Their lovely brand of folky ballad has done a full loop, and now it seems that they have somehow become ahead of their time instead of behind it. Based around husband and wife combination Karen and Don Peris, The Innocence Mission write beautiful songs inspired principally by their deep Christian faith; another thing you wouldn’t know from hearing it. Lead vocalist, Karen Peris is a brilliant and motivated songwriter whose astounding voice could lullaby even the coarsest and bawdiest of folks into a sweet, calm slumber. With sounds comparable to Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor, The Innocence Mission are on par with the biggest acts in the world; certainly in the female singer-songwriter genre. And what’s more, they’ve been doing it since before the two previously mentioned superstars had turned 10 years old.

In July 2010 The Innocence Mission released a new album, My Room in the Trees; their first release since 2007 (available here). The album has received glowing reviews; funnily enough a lot of them are from Christian publications. It’s obvious that their community have supported them for a long time, and helped them remain one of the best kept secrets in world music. I can’t imagine what more a Christian person would get out of The Innocence Mission than anybody else. Religious references are few and far between and when they do occur, they are often cleverly masked in metaphor; just universally enjoyable regardless of all things. It is well worth looking into The Innocence Mission’s collection of past works. Even their albums from the mid to early nineties are very current and relevant in today’s musical soundscape.

Country of Origin: USA
Sounds Like: Regina Spektor, Joanna Newsom
File Under: Folk pop

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