Another week and another edition of “First Impressions”. In the six or so weeks we’ve been doing this, the albums we’ve listened to haven’t done so great. Will this week’s artists share the same fate?
First of all, most of us are fans of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s project, She & Him. On Tuesday, they will release Classics, which covers thirteen tracks dating back to as early as the 1930s. The album is streaming on NPR this weekend, and it can be pre-ordered on their website, iTunes, and Amazon. But before you get out your credit card, take a read of our gang’s first impressions.
I’m usually not a big fan of listening to other artists sing an entire album of covers unless it’s a holiday album and of course She & Him already have a Christmas album they released in 2011. After listening to Classics in it’s entirety, though my opinion may have changed a bit. Deschanel has a timeless voice, which is showcased very well here as they cover some great pop songs over the past 80 years. The overall feel of the album is low key and minimal. Vocally, Deschanel has the spotlight here with Ward popping up in the background or as a duet on a few tracks except for “She”. “Unchained Melody” really is a great rendition and one of my favs off of the album. I also really liked “Oh No, Not My Baby” which showcases Ward’s guitar talent. I kind of want to go find someone to slow dance with now and drink a sarsaparilla. If their intent was to produce a nostalgic feel good album, they definitely succeeded.
She & Him are fantastic at creating a vibe with their records, their Christmas record was an instant classic that always gets a million spins from me each Holiday season. They repeat that success with Classics. Classics reminds me of what first drew me to She & Him. Zooey Deschanel’s voice has always impressed me, it has a quality that definitely has a feel quite fitting for these covers of old classics. M. Ward’s flawless guitar playing and the rare smoky vocal he contributes add quite a bit to the record as well. I absolutely love their rendition of “Oh No, Not My Baby”, and Deschanel takes “Stay Awhile” and owns it while Ward lays down a perfectly executed guitar solo. Classsics comes to a close with a lovely version of “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn which features mostly just Deschanel and Ward singing before a few more voices join in, it’s a fitting ending to a fun album. Classics is She & Him at their best.
Whether it’s a Christmas album or original music, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have an undeniable chemistry. Deschanel’s rapturous voice is perfectly complemented by Ward’s smokey vocals. And whereas Deschanel’s bubbly and charming personality comes out in her voice, Ward charms us with his brilliant guitar playing. With Classics, the magic between the two of them is evident once again. However, unlike their previous efforts, they’ve taken a step back, adopting a more low-key, quieter approach in order to pay their respects to some of the great classics of the past eighty years. Deschanel sings most of the tracks, and her voice perfectly fits whatever era. This is most apparent on “Would You Like to Take a Walk”. Ward, though, takes the lead on “She”, which is a stunning rendition. “Unchained Melody“ has been covered countless of times, but the low-key, discreet approach taken by Deschanel and Ward is fantastic.
Classics is a great album. It’s charming yet full of grace. It’s a great record to be spinning over the holiday season.
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