Release Date: Mar 18, 2008
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Rock, Singer-Songwriter
She is actress Zooey Deschanel; Him is alt-singer/songwriter M. Ward. The two met on the set of a movie, found some musical common ground, and began working together. Volume One is the resulting album and it's one of the better albums made recently by a movie star, male or female. Good enough, in ….
When I first heard about the pairing of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel my ears were raised, but with a variable amount of skepticism. Deschanel, after all, is every hipster's "it girl" of choice, but can she sing? Are her songs even any good? The doubts began to mount. M. Ward can always be relied ….
Review Summary: She & Him's debut release is more like a collection of songs rather than a cohesive, fresh album, and as such, is a letdown for a singer that showed a lot of promise.The only way to describe Zooey Deschanel is a sweetheart. After all, Zooey's performance in the hit holiday comedy Elf made her seem so innocent and fragile. But now, actress, Zooey Deschanel is entering a completely different realm.
She & Him consist of American actor Zooey Deschanel and Merge Records singer/songwriter M. Ward, an unexpected musical duo making the kind of sunny-day pop that would’ve crackled through the radio during its golden age. Deschanel’s voice is of distant vintage – frank, assured and refreshingly devoid of the pitch-corrected gloss favoured by modern-day pop stars.
She's Zooey Deschanel, the Hollywood actor turning her hand to singing and songwriting; Him's M Ward, the indie-folk darling providing the arrangements for her efforts. And together they have produced an eminently likable if unexceptional album. Deschanel's songs, melodically and lyrically, owe virtually everything to the styles of the early 1960s - girl-group tropes are explored extensively - but Ward's countryish arrangements stop them descending into pastiche.
The She & Him behind Volume One are actress Zooey Deschanel and Merge mainstay M. Ward. Although the two previously collaborated on a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “When I Get to the Border” (for the soundtrack of the film The Go-Getter), their first full-length marks Deschanel’s debut as a songwriter. Aside from two covers (Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Gotta Hold on Me” and The Beatles’s “You Should Have Known Better”), she writes and sings lead on every track here.
With M. Ward playing Lee Hazlewood to Zooey Deschanel's Nancy Sinatra, the indie-folk mainstay's production plying retro-AM arrangements behind the actress' surprisingly powerful voice, the pair's debut exudes a breezy pop and twang both seductive and naive. Contemporary touchstones skip between April March and Jenny Lewis – the Hollywood pep talk of "This Is Not a Test" recalling the latter – while drifting through girl-group harmonies ("I Was Made for You"), sultry jazz ("Take It Back"), and Melanie-esque innuendo ("Black Hole," "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?").