Ever since seeing the movie Elf in 2003, I’ve been hoping and praying that Zooey Deschanel would put out an album. In the film, Ms. Deschanel sings a few Christmas carols and her big, brassy voice immediately won me over. Apparently keeping my fingers crossed all these years paid off, as Deschanel has paired up with M. Ward to release Volume One as She & Him.
A mix of twangy classic country and snappy girl-group numbers, the album plays as an homage to days gone by. Deschanel’s voice is usually the focus of the track, with M. Ward providing smart backing instrumentation.
At points Deschanel takes a somewhat lazy approach in her delivery, but it works with the relaxed flow of the tune, most successfully on the summer’s day quality of “This Is Not a Test”. For the most part, however, she favors multi-layered harmonies and a brash yet beautiful country twang.
Highlights from the album include wonderfully arranged “I Thought I Saw Your Face Today” and the two girl-group inspired tracks “I Was Made For You” and “Sweet Darlin'”, which channels Phil Spector and features the ever-classic ‘kick!kick-kick-clap!’ drum beat.
Volume One features two duets between Deschanel and Ward. The relaxed country-hula cover of The Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better” is a disappointment, but their cover of “You Really Got A Hold On Me” is transcendent. Stripped down and recorded with a slight echo, the pair brings out a vulnerability and longing that perfectly captures the message of the lyrics.
Volume One dropped on 03/18/08.
Visit the She & Him website here.