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Volume One

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Album Review

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 fact, that it even heads off the obligatory suspicions that she only got to make a record because she was a Hollywood star. After a few spins of the album, one could make a compelling case that Deschanel could quit her day job, or at least justifiably call herself an actress/musician. The common ground that the duo explores on Volume One is a sweet place where light-'60s pop meets strummy country tunes and candy-coated folk, a mythical meeting place between Sandie Shaw and Tammy Wynette with cameos by Richard & Linda Thompson. Deschanel's songs are simple and sad tales of heartbreak and missed connections, with hooky melodies and not a single artless moment to be found. For sure, there's not a single instance that sounds like she got the gig because of who she is instead of what she can do. Even if her songs were weak, her strong, assured vocals would carry the day. Sweet and rich with no annoying folky warble, she can croon ("Take It Back"), cry ("Sentimental Heart"), be playful (the bubblegum snappy "I Was Made for You"), or just sweep you off your feet with sweetness ("Sweet Darlin'," which she co-wrote with another artist who overcomes his Hollywood roots, Jason Schwartzman). As for Ward, he keeps his quirks mostly to himself, providing sympathetic backing unadorned by the kind of tricks and gimmicks that make his own albums slightly uneven. The occasional whistle here or slightly unconventional string arrangement there are the only traces of his usual artistry on Volume One. The rest of the time he and the band (which includes the ubiquitous Mike Mogis) create a soft, gentle feel equally inspired by the Brill Building and the Countrypolitan sound of Nashville in the late '50s. The only place the album falters is on the two covers the duo attempts. Deschanel doesn't add much to "You Really Got a Hold on Me," and Ward's backing vocals are just the kind of affected, arch singing she avoids elsewhere. Their take on the Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" is better, but still awfully close to a novelty. The album would have been more successful without both tracks, but even with them, it stands as a nice coming out party for Deschanel. If you run screaming at the thought of singing actresses, give She & Him a chance and they might calm your fears. You may even forget the origins of the singer and simply be charmed by the singing, the songs, and the sounds found on Volume One.

Customer Reviews

Finally! Long awaited recording from Deschanel...

Despite the other reviewers astonishment at an actress that can sing, had any of them bothered they would've known that Zooey Deschanel is a multi-instrumentalist and trained in musical theatre. Seeing this, she is a musician that happens to be an especially good actress. Having that misconception sorted, I have just listened to this album, and am very happy with purchasing it. In a sense it's great that she waited this long before releasing an official recording, and teaming up with M.Ward was a brilliant career move. At times you feel more attention should've been placed on her magnigicent voice, but the melodies that move between acoustic blues, retro pop, jazz, country and folk, along with the heartfelt lyrics reminds you of the satisfaction one used to have from listening to bands like the Carpenters. The production is slick, though it still manages to capture the live sensibility between the two artists. In fact, most of the time it feels as if you are being serenaded personally. I think I will be purchasing the harcopy as well!

You've got to love every note M Ward plays

oh and the sun shines from Zooeys voice.

Lovely in so many ways!

An album of the most beautifully folky/country/60's inspired songs-every single one of them will be inprinted on you.On first listen i really loved the obvious folky appeal of 'Why do you let me stay here'but after a few more listens you start to really appreciate the little gems such as 'black hole''change is hard' 'This is not a test'- actually practically all of them!
The album has tracks that really remind me of bands like the Shirelles and the Ronettes and also country influences such as Linda Ronstadt but all of it is completeley refereshing, Especially with M Wards production which is recognisable on this record and really adds originality.

Disagreeing with the album review, the beatles covers are not uneccasay- having not been too familiar with the beatles version of 'You really got a hold on me' I found that much prefer the She&Him version, as it is much more sorrowful and soulful, and i think the slower pace lends itself to the song.I bought this album a year ago and still sing at least one from it every day, washing up and whatever, because there so lovely to sing and really stay with you.

All in all,one of my favourite albums ever.


Formed: 2006 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

She & Him feature the somewhat unlikely pairing of country-folk artist M. Ward and actress/singer/songwriter Zooey Deschanel. While starring in the 2007 film The Go-Getter, Deschanel was asked by director Martin Hynes to perform a duet with Ward, who had agreed to helm the movie's soundtrack. The two recorded a cover of Richard & Linda Thompson's "When I Get to the Border" and later reconvened in Portland, where they began recording Deschanel's original songs (which the actress had previously demoed...
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