A Very She & Him Christmas by She & Him (Merge Records, 2011. 32 minutes)
She & Him is comprised of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, and was originally formed in the city of Portland, Oregon. A Very She & Him Christmas marks the band’s third release, following their previous albums Volume One(2008), and Volume Two (2010).
I must confess that I love Zooey Deschanel. Ever since she appeared in the movie Elf, I have found her sarcastic wit and beautiful, sultry voice to be absolutely breathtaking. Especially in this highly produced and vocally auto-tuned age, I find her voice refreshing. Having stated my confession, I bought A Very She & Him Christmas, as well as She & Him’s earlier releases for Zooey Deschanel, not M. Ward. That being said, M. Ward functions well as the “Him” portion of the duo. While most of the tracks are wonderful on this album, I’ll share a few of the highlights.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
With this classic Christmas tune, visions of Elvis are dancing in my head. A soft organ and a highly reverbed “boom-chuck” guitar play throughout the tune. Deschanel’s voice takes charge throughout this sparse song, and some background vocals appear at points in the song. This version captures the song incredibly well with its sparse instrumentation and simple vocal line.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside!
She & Him performs an exceptional rendition of this classic Sammy Davis, Jr. song. But, instead of the man in the song slyly wooing the woman to stay because it’s cold outside, She & Him cleverly reverses the roles. Zooey is hoping the M. Ward stays in, and it piques the listener’s interest because the woman asserts her affection on the man, instead of the traditional way the dialogue is played out. In short, produced by M. Ward himself, this song represents the songwriter’s trademark indie-folk style.
Lastly, I found that “Blue Christmas” – traditionally, an incredibly melancholy song – was one of the best on the album. The tune reminds me of the Beach Boys’ version of the song from the 1964 record, The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album. The song’s lyrics combined with Ward’s sensitive guitar playing and Deschanel’s soft voice make for a compelling arrangement and it completely captures the longing of a lover during Christmas time.
“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you, Ill be so blue thinking about you. Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree, won’t be the same dear if you’re not here with me.”
Will A Very She & Him Christmas Last?
My last two Christmas album posts have pondered the idea that a good Christmas album will be passed down from generation to generation. And I really think that with the good arrangements found on the album, A Very She & Him Christmas could find itself on playlists decades down the road. Though She & Him is an indie band with a smaller following, the album’s depth and quality speaks for itself; it breaks through at the top of the Christmas records this year, even without all the fancy production bells and whistles found in my last two reviews. A Very She & Him Christmas is a simple, easy-to-listen-to album that I feel everyone should spin for Christmases to come.
Verdict: 5 out of 5
Posted by: Andrew Jacobson