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She and Him - Volume One

  by Mark Rowland

published: 7 / 7 / 2008

She and Him - Volume One
Label: Double Six Records
Format: CD


Appealing combination of indie, folk, 60s pop and country genre on debut album from She and Him, the project of Hollywood actress Zooey Deschanel and highly acclaimed indie musician M Ward

There was a time, not so long ago, when actors who made a move into the music industry did not do so well. There was Keanu Reeves with his awful band Dogstar, Russell Crowe and his 30 Odd Foot of Grunts and Bruce Willis’ ill-fated attempts at crooning. For most of us, it was a comfort - proof that these members of Hollywood’s elite were not infallible after all. They may be able to act (well, in some cases that was debatable) but at least they couldn’t write a song to save their lives. Unfortunately, however, this has changed, with Jason Schwartzman’s Phantom Planet and his subsequent solo project, Coconut Records, Scarlet Johansson’s album of Tom Waits covers and most recently, Zooey Deschanel’s She and Him, with M Ward. If it weren’t for M Ward, ’Volume One’ may have never been made. His main role on this project, however, has been as Deschanel’s producer and cheerleader. Deschanel had written the majority of these songs before she mentioned to Ward that she wrote songs. The only songs on the album that aren’t written by her are the covers. When Ward heard her demos, he encouraged her to release them into the world. The songs on ’Volume One’ are fairly mellow, spanning the indie, folk, 60s pop and country genres. They are also very strong melodically, single ’Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?’ being a real standout, with it‘s Beatles-esque descending chord progression and hooky melody. Opener ’Sentimental Heart’ sounds like the bastard child of a Phil Spector and Regina Specktor ballad. Forthcoming single ’This is Not a Test’ is more of a country strum, but builds up into the kind of jangly chorus that REM once specialised in. ’Change is Hard’ is even more country, coming across like a vintage Emmylou Harris song, while ’I Thought I Saw Your Face Today’ again taps into the soul of the 60’s best female pop singers. ’Take It Back’ sees Deschanel coming on a bit Nina Simone in a piano-led intro before gently strummed guitars kick in and the song heads back to sophisticated 60s pop territory. The Surf-y ’I was Made For You’ makes for a welcome change in pace after several ballads. It’s cheesy, but in a good way. The two covers on the album are a stripped down version of ’You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me’ by Smokey Robinson and the Beatles’ ’I Should Have Known Better’, which is countrified to the max. ’Sweet Darlin’, the last credited song on the album, was co-written with Jason Schwartzman and is another upbeat, 60s inflected pop number. The final track is a brief cover of ’Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ a fitting and subtle end to an enjoyable album.

Track Listing:-
1 Sentimental Heart
2 Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
3 This Is Not a Test
4 Change Is Hard
5 I Thought I Saw Your Face Today
6 Take It Back
7 I Was Made for You
8 You Really Got a Hold on Me
9 Black Hole
10 Got Me
11 I Should Have Known Better
12 Sweet Darlin'
13 Swing Low Sweet Chariot

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A Very She and Him Christmas (2011)
Wonderful collection of Christmas song covers from She and Him, the project of Hollywood actress Zooey Deschanel and acclaimed indie musician M Ward
Volume Two (2010)

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