Some of us first fell in love with Zooey Deschanel's distinctive and charming voice when she crooned, "Baby it’s cold outside," with Will Ferrell in their 2003 movie, Elf. Then, in concert last summer, M.Ward invited Deschanel to the stage, where they effortlessly created the equivalent of musical utopia. In their first recorded collaboration as She & Him, Deschanel and Ward strike the same sincerity with his nostalgic production and her retro resonance. Cover songs such as "You Really Got a Hold on Me," previously performed by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, gain a newfound heartache and undeniable splendor. Bring on Volume 2. --Amanda MacKinnon
Zooey is quite clearly a talented singer and songwriter. Anyone who heard her sing "Baby It's Cold Outside" from Elf, or the songs she sang for the soundtrack to "Winter Passing," knows she has the voice.
On this record, she cuts a number of absolutely charming, quirky tunes, but ones that require some active listening to appreciate. M. Ward provides deft, responsive backup and arrangements.
My primary gripe here is with the production -- for some reason the producers put Zooey's voice a bit too far back in the mix, and it on occasion can sound a bit thin -- this is in contrast to the full-bodied voice we heard on Elf.
Next time, get a production who can add some fullness to the production all-around, but for a first record this one is a winner.
Zooey, you have my "Sentimental Heart" without question.
After giving it a spin, I like it well enough to hang on to, but it'll be one of those albums I play only those specific days/moods.
There is a nice little video, "Myspace, Artist on Artist," you can search for on the internet in which she and Brian Wilson (formerly of The Beach Boys) interview each other. After listening to this album you'll easily understand why Deschanel and Wilson have been paired together. As Wilson tries to blend his eclectic past to the present, Deschanel inversely tries to lend her sound to that of the time from which Wilson's fame arose. Here it seems that the 60's aren't so distant after all. In the interview, Deschanel and Wilson speak about their mutual love for harmony. And in "Volume 1" Deschanel and M. Ward captivate their audience with seamless harmony that opens up a window to the past.
Passing from one track to the next on "Volume 1" could just as likely seem like listening to tracks from "She and Him, Greatest Hits." One track is better that the last so don't be surprised to find yourself singing them to yourself throughout the day. Her music is accessible to people of all musical bents. So don't take your time buying this one. As Deschanel puts it in track 3, "this is not a test," this is the real thing!
OK, enough about that. At first listen I didn't care much for this CD. I was very disappointed when I sampled it on iTunes. But for some reason, I just kept getting drawn back to listen again and again. Probably about my fourth listen I was hooked. I can't explain it, but there is just something about this CD that grows on you.
It reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite. When I first watched it, I thought, "It's OK." But after watching it, as the week went on, I started thinking about it and thought, "Man, that movie was really funny!" This CD is kind of like that (at least for me) Only instead of "funny" it is just really good music. I hope to hear more from She & Him in the future (or even just Zooey by herself).
I've listened to it straight for over a week of wet, rainy walking and boring lectures, and I'm still not bored of it. Quite the contrary, actually. I like it more every time I listen to it. Even if you don't listen to it for the rest of your life, it will make at least week of it better. Honestly, I think that alone is worth it. This is a CD I'd recommend to anyone who likes music that is enjoyable and uncomplicated (re: not political or full of hidden messages).