There are many southern Louisianans who grew up in the church who will understand Slow Rosary’s “Free WiFi in the Vatican.”
The album has the trappings of a Catholic worship record – there’s the hymn “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore” and a track based on Matthew 13:44-55 (with red lettering on album lyrics page). But listeners will immediately understand that this is not a religious work: “Free WiFi in the Vatican” is secular, complex and contradictory. It struggles with Catholicism in its beauty and brutality.
” Put it very simply, it is the expression of all my reflections on faith and my relationship with it”, explains René Duplantier, the singer-songwriter at the heart of slow rosary. “It includes a song where I criticize Christian presidents and it includes criticism of the pope, but it also includes a licensed cover of a church song.”
Duplantier was born in New Orleans and raised in a Catholic family – “confirmed as St. Francis Xavier, since unconfirmed, still curious,” it reads. the about page on the Lent Rosary website. As he reached his twenties, Duplantier found himself in a “long process of leaving Catholicism,” he says.
“It wasn’t a contentious process or anything, it was mostly that I realized I didn’t believe a lot of the things they believed,” he adds.
Duplantier went to college in Arizona, and when he returned to New Orleans, he began playing a monthly show at the Neutral Ground Coffee House. His past songwriting had been influenced more by alternative and indie rock musicians like Alex G and Tigers Jaw, but around this time – also embroiled in religious decoupling – he found he was writing more folksy songs. He decided to call the project for these tunes Slow Rosary.
“Free WiFi in the Vatican,” which premieres Friday, is the second feature in the slow Rosary, followed by “Refinery”, released last August, just days before Hurricane Ida hit. Duplantier wrote the songs for both albums over the past four years, and they work together — sort of.
“I think of ‘Refinery’ as kind of a narrative, ‘what happened’, and then ‘Free WiFi’ is the main character’s thought process. It’s more fluid,” says Duplantier.
“‘Raffinerie’ more explicitly touches on the events of my childhood, my young adulthood, a few breakups, a few moves, travels,” Duplantier adds later in the conversation. “While this record is never something I would have said out loud. … ‘Refinery’ is literally what’s been going on for three or four years, while ‘Free WiFi’ is exactly what I was thinking. »
Freeman enlisted more than 20 friends for the new record.
The songs on “Free WiFi” are lush and captivating, with a bed of sounds that enhance Duplantier’s folksy lyricism. The album’s lo-fi, home-recorded quality makes it feel like entering a small, pretty church during the musical portion of Sunday service – as the band plays songs about so-called Christian presidents calling for waterboarding.
Duplantier — who sings and plays guitar, bass, piano and keys on “Free WiFi” — is the focus of Slow Rosary, and he often collaborates with drummer Blake Robicheaux with a rotating cast of musicians. The album features musicians Kate Gauthreaux, Zach Lannes and Dreux Gerard LeBourgeois, and Nick Rosato II also performs with the band live.
“On the Bandcamp page, I labeled it both ‘Christian’ and ‘atheist’,” Duplantier laughs. “A lot of people who aren’t religious make music with religious imagery. Especially in New Orleans, for the locals anyway, a lot of people grew up with [the church]. Everyone can have an easy connection there.
To learn more about Slow Rosary and “Free WiFi in the Vatican”, go to slowrosary.com.