She & Him: Volume One

By: Dennis Cook

"I cried all night till there was nothing more." Thus begins Volume One (released by Merge on March 18), the finest soft rock homage to drop out of the heavens in forever. The pairing of actress Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous, All The Real Girls) and indie stalwart M. Ward may seem leftfield but proves an unremitting charm. This is the product of a shared love of Brill Building songwriting and the carefully constructed three-minute vintage pop of Neil Diamond, Charlie Rich, Everly Brothers and especially Carole King, the clear touchstone for Deschanel's thoroughly winning voice, which also touches on Patsy Cline, Laura Nyro and Merrilee Rush ("Angel of the Morning").

The knee-jerk reaction is to reject this is as some post-modern exercise but post-modern exercises don't shout things like "I was made for you" or "I think you're just so pleasant I'd like you for my own." The sincerity of their affections for AM radio fare like King's "You've Got A Friend," James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and the early albums of Linda Ronstadt can't be denied. Ward and Deschanel give just the right echoey warble to their spot-on originals and covers like Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" and The Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better." You can hear the laughter and naked pleasure that existed in the recording studio, and even the weepies have a warm lilt. With rain on the roof and rain in their heads, She & Him is a pure delight. To reject such sweetness speaks of a curmudgeonly heart, and you don't want to have one of those, right?

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[Published on: 3/24/08]

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KCReb Mon 3/24/2008 12:56PM
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I caught a few tunes from these two at SXSW and must say that I was very impressed with Zooey's voice. It certainly helps that she is adorable behind the mic, but either way the songs were of something I haven't heard in a long time.

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Wed 3/26/2008 04:01PM
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^^^^totally^^^^ agree. the show at the French Legation was awesome!! M. Ward is a great guitar player.

stlcross Thu 4/3/2008 04:43PM
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Nice to see Matt take a back seat. His slight touches are sweet.