Friday, April 11, 2008

She & Him - Volume 1

Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are the working entities of She & Him. An Actress and a musician join forces to create a debut record that is full of tunes that consist of both originals and covers in the form of '60's pop mixed with a darling Country twang. On the first spin the covers melded right into the originals and I had to listen to the lyrics and stop and think, "wait a second, this is a cover." The interesting thing about covering well-known tunes is there is not much middle ground. The end product is either pretty awful, or manages to hold up to the original. Thankfully, Zooey sings every song as if it's her own. I should probably back up just a moment before jumping into the album. Zooey met M. Ward on the set of a movie for which he was doing the soundtrack. They found common musical interests and began recording together. Industry folks knew that Zooey could sing, but was never thought to be terribly serious about it. And her musical guide M. Ward has become more widely known with his association with Zooey. I've been hooked on his music for a few years now. His lyricism and musicianship are first class, and he clearly brings a lot to the songs on their debut album.

Volume I consists of both original songs and a few cover songs. If there is a "problem" with the album it's there's not enough of M. Ward singing. He has a great voice and creates wonderful textures when they do sing together, but you're left wanting more duets. After all, it's billed as "She & Him", not "She & and smidgen of Him." Hopefully this is rectified in their live performances because if you went to a show and just saw Zooey singing and M. Ward playing guitar you'd probably feel a bit short-changed. Overall, the album is pretty wonderful. On the first listen I kinda had to make sure it was coming out of my iPod and not a record player because it has such a vintage feel. This album could have been recorded and released in 1973 and would have fit in and been right at home. It has a dusty quality that made me want to play it out of "old" speakers to enhance the feel of the old-timey fidelity. Nothing on this album feels forced or fake or pretentious. Zooey seems to have just gone in over the course of a few weeks and recorded some songs with a great friend and song writer in M. Ward. The final creation will probably add validity to her claim to be called Actress/Musician Zooey Deschanel. As for M. Ward, you can clearly hear his influence on the album, but hopefully on Volume II he puts more of his voice next to Zooey instead of just his guitar. The track below is one of the covers that is superb and Zooey really makes her own. UPDATE: NYT Article (4/16)

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