Friday, June 3, 2011

Albums2010 #40-41: She and Him Vols.1 & 2

What's not to love about Zooey Deschanel? She's fun, quirky, has a great sense of style, is an accomplished actress and, man oh man, can she sing. (Plus, mad props for her sister's kick-ass show, Bones.)

She and Him seemed to spring out of a happy coincidence that occured on one of Deschanel's films 'The Go-Getter' where she met M. Ward and was asked to record a song for the ending credits with him- they enjoyed the experience so much they decided to make an album together and 'She and Him' was born. Overall, the musical experience is... pleasant. Well, that's not quite the right word. It's pleasant, but pleasant like your Mom's home cooking is pleasant or pleasant how a cheese bagel fresh out of the oven tastes with smoked salmon cream cheese... you know, the perfect comfort food that gives you a nice warm fuzzy feeling deep down inside. That's what I mean by pleasant.

If there's a difference between Volumes 1 and 2, it's the slight evolution of sound that occurs between the two discs. The basic formula stays the same: Zooey Deschanel, microphone, music- but I think Volume 2 drifts towards more of an alt-country sound in places that Volume 1 doesn't- there are shades of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn in Volume 2 that make it a very different listening experience from Volume 1.

The opening track is really what grabs your attention on Volume One... 'Sentimental Heart' is a nice, romantic slow song which let's Deschanel show the range of her smooth voice and the album just builds from there. 'Why Do You Let Me Stay Here', 'This Is Not A Test', 'Change Is Hard' follow up from there and suck you into the wonderful sun-dappled music that seems to be She and Him's hallmark. The first four tracks do stick out- and don't get me wrong the entire album is wonderful, but there are only two more tracks that are worthy of note. First is a wonderful, wonderful cover of the Lennon/McCartney track 'Should Have Known Better' that Deschanel turns into a slow, soulful blues tune that pretty much melts your face off. The other track is a toe-tapping swaying song called 'Sweet Darlin'' that was co-written by the noted actor Jason Schwartzman... which grabbed my attention and as apparently, the guy can write. (Interesting side note: I think Schwartzman is in a band. What band, I don't know...)

As I already noted, Volume 2 has a dollop of country flavor to it. With tracks like 'Thieves' and 'Gonna Get Along Without You Now' it manages to retain the sunny sensibility and smooth soul of the first Volume while shifting the sound ever-so-slightly into something new... and, as the hallmark of all good groups/bands/musicians that make music, they leave you wanting more. And I can't wait for Volume 3- and hopefully it comes out soon.

Overall: A beautiful voice and nice, mellow music that's perfect for chilling out after a long summer day.

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