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She & Him Volume One Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

It would be a perfect Hollywood ending for She & Him if Volume One was a summer hit.

Sid Smith 2008

The origins of this album sound like a Hollywood romcom. LA actress, Zooey Deschanel - with a clutch of promising cinematic roles to her credit - writes songs in her spare time but keeps them to herself. When guitarist and maverick producer, M. Ward hears her tunes, he declares his love of them and promptly proposes they make sweet music together.

Whilst that story may just be PR puff, it's entirely consistent with the combination of 60s girl group clamour and wistful bygone balladry that makes up the album. All the ups and downs of young romance are faithfully recreated in loving fidelity and a variety of styles to evoke that teary-eyed yesteryear pop ambience. Carole King's It Might As Well Rain Until September appears to be a pervasive template as do other Brill Building / Tin Pan Alley showtunes.

There's also a fair amount of endearingly kooky humour in the act. This Is Not A Test boasts a parping pursed-lips trumpet solo, whilst on a swooning lounge-style cover of Lennon & McCartney's I Should Have Known Better, Deschanel can be heard giggling off-mic as Ward's lugubrious voice hams up the chorus.

Got Me and the Nick Lowe-ish, Change Is Hard, are shot through with torch song stoicism and oodles of pedal steel guitar that glisten and drip from many other finely-honed chord changes and middle eights. Sure it's light and frothy but it's also impressively graceful in its construction; light on its feet without being lightweight.

Karen Carpenter, KD Lang, Barbara Lewis and others are skilfully conjured but that shouldn't deflect from the fact that Deschanel's warm and affable vocals work really well in their own right. Now that her secret songs are no longer a guilty pleasure, it would be a perfect Hollywood ending for She & Him if Volume One was a summer hit.

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