Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reviews:: She & Him Volume 1

Normally when an actress decides to move into the music world you end up with some bubble gum pop, dance type filth littered with studio magic… well that or an album full of Tom Waits covers. Not surprisingly, most of those records get the Walt Frazier from herohill, "no play... (for Mr. Gray)." But when word of a collaboration between M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel surfaced, it just seemed like a project I wanted to like.

Unlike most young actresses these days, Zooey Deschanel doesn't invade your screen with sass and arrogance. Instead, her characters charm you will a child like innocence and that playfulness shines through on her musical endeavors. While most people cite her role in the movie Elf as what drew them into this obsession with her voice, I find myself looking back to her role as a music teacher in Bridge to Terabithia. She played a young teacher that would bring a guitar and percussion instruments for the kids and get everyone singing along.

The uninhibited joy of the kids and Zooey during the songs made hearts melt all over the world and kind of showed that her voice and spirit was something that deserved to be heard. She seemed to have an appreciation of music that was real and the traditional influence on the nine songs she wrote for this record proves that. You can't picture her showing up at Coachella and freaking out in the DJ tent on E, but you can easily picture her singing along to Patsy Kline records while she walks around the kitchen making dinner.

Couple that with the unique talent that is M Ward, and this poorly named project is tailor made for the blog world. Musically, the easiest way to describe this project is enjoyable; simple arrangements, classic melodies but no means is it boring. Zooey's voice takes center stage, but the accompaniment really bolsters the sound and keeps these songs from blending together. The record opens with Sentimental Heart, a songs about a lover left alone and Ward adds a piano and staccato strings to warm the song. When the harmonies and Spector-ish wall of sound come in you are hooked. I can't imagine a better setting for this record than an early morning while the sun bounces of the specs of dust in the air.

Most of the melodies are driven by relatively simple piano or acoustic guitar, but the little nuances that dance in the distance really draw you in and Ward uses fast crescendos that add layer after layer - like the drums, electric noodle and bass on Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? or the kazoo on This is Not a Test - but somehow the songs still sound like they've been taken from a record recorded years ago. Ward plays the back for most of the record, but lends his voice to the terrific Miracles cover - You Really Got a Hold of Me and I would wager he had a big part in the complete reworking of the Beatles track, I Should Have Known Better. The late afternoon, surfy breeze style transforms the Fab Four classic into a completely different, but equally as enjoyable track.

Zooey's voice is pretty malleable as she can move from country to folk to 50's pop (like the catchy, Hey Mr. Postman style of I Was Made For You) and she never makes the mistake of overselling her voice or emotions. As a result, instead of looking for faults you simply embrace the sincerity of the songs. Before it even ends, you start wondering how long you have to wait for Volume 2.
[MP3]:: Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
[MP3]:: You Really Got a Hold on Me (live)

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Posted at 2:07 PM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 2:23 AM, Blogger Dainon. did sayeth:

No fair! I mean ... I'd like a copy to dig my teeth into, too, especially after that stellar review.

 

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Admin did sayeth:

o you think that Zooey looks like singer Kate Perry?

Zooey Deschanel Pictures

 

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