Actress Zooey Deschanel has nailed a role that legitimizes her as a singer-songwriter, not just some hipster starlet testing her cred.

Backed by songsmith M. Ward, She & Him's new LP is loaded with stripped down, classic pop songs that feature Deschanel's playful, though powerful, country drawl and guitarist Ward's modest but full rhythmic compositions. Here, his stylish vibrato playing seems to keep Deschanel bouncing, reaching higher in tone and cadence, clarifying those lovelorn lyrics of hers with full-voiced intent.

"Well, I am back in your good graces again. Remember when you told me that I was your only friend," sings Deschanel at the start of "Me and You," conjuring country-pop luminaries Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn.

The collection is musically jovial, if at times a little bright for the lyric: "Why do I always want to sock it to you hard/ Let you know what love is like?" preens Deschanel on "Over and Over Again."

Volume Two confirms S&H is not imitation, not an act to go with Deschanel’s jet-black bangs and mischievous smile. It is an exclamation point to the duo’s laudable debut.

  • Album: Volume Two (2010)
  • Artist: She and Him
  • Label: Merge Records
  • Songs: (1) Thieves (2) In The Sun (3) Don't Look Back (4) Ridin' In My Car (5) Lingering Still (6) Me and You (7) Gonna Get Along Without You (8) Home (9) I'm Gonna Make It Better (10) Sing (11) Over And Over Again (12) Brand New Shoes (13) If You Can't Sleep

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Comments

Alan Segal April 17, 2010 @ 4:36 p.m.

I loved this CD. It's low key and very mellow easy listening. It reminds me of a contemporary version of Simon and Garfinkle, "slow down you move to fast music". Zoey Daschnal reflects in her lead singing on "She and him" the same likable, quirky, character she was in the indie hit film "(500) Days of Summer", she starred in last year. Although it's mostly original new songs, my two favorites are two covers of oldies, "Gonna Get Along without You Now" and "I can Hear Music".Ms Daschnal adds her attractive personality to these pop songs and makes them sound new. This is the kind of album you can listen to and still enjoy, as background music at a dinner party, or on headphones when you're on a walk or bike ride, or kicking back and laying in the sun. I know it's corny, but it's anti-stress, and feel good music. And it's about as far from hip hop or heavy rock as one can get, if you're weary of those sounds, as I am.

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MsGrant April 17, 2010 @ 4:47 p.m.

I agree, alansegal. I've loved Zooey ever since I heard her sing in "Elf". It's not corny, it's super cool.

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rollo_cabeza April 19, 2010 @ 7:41 p.m.

Unfortunately, this might be the only good thing Zooey has going for her. I can't stand her movies 500 Days of Summer might have been the worst flick I have seen since Garden State. Throw some Pixies Karaoke in and suddenly it's some indie flick? The only thing she was good in was Almost Famous. She and Him is her saving grace!

--rollo

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rollo_cabeza April 19, 2010 @ 9:37 p.m.

You're on to me, MsGrant. It's not the first time that I've been called bitter. I have a feeling it won't be the last. Thanks!

--Rollo

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SDaniels April 20, 2010 @ 4:17 a.m.

re: #1: "Simon and Garfinkle, "slow down you move to fast music""

Blasphemy! That would be Simon and GarfUnkle, and the lyrics to "Feelin' Groovy" go "Slow down/you move toO fast"

Ok, feeling less bitter, now ;)

And I'd like to check out Deschanel's album--her voice is like caramel, with something bright added. Lemon basil? :)

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 7:56 a.m.

Yes, SD, exactly!! At the risk of sounding like a star f***er, she turns vowels around and then sort of chirps them out, and it really is kind of refreshing, after all the Mariah Carey theatrics of the most recent crop of female vocalists.

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 8:15 a.m.

Nothin' better than bitter, Rollo. I have no room to talk. Bitterness is fuel. Keeps things interesting.

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SDaniels April 20, 2010 @ 8:36 a.m.

Oh yeah, and I do appreciate Mariah Carey's talent, but am also tired of the parade of vocalists you mention. We like Deschanel perhaps because she sounds more like a jazz artist--maybe it's time to find some of them we can like? My problem with contemp. jazz female vocalists is that they sound lame, and so--loungey--without a lounge pass! Talking about Diana Krall and everyone who tries to sound like her, and Alison Krauss, ugh ...Scatting phonily around with the standards rightly sung only by the greats, like Holliday, Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, etc. etc.

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 9 a.m.

Agreed. They try to pretty it up too much, with the hair and glamour. Jazz greats seem to need an unpretty past, drugs and abusive exes and alcohol, to legitimize the music. Not that I wish that on anyone, but there seems to be a connection to great talent and disfunction.

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SDaniels April 20, 2010 @ 10:53 a.m.

If that is so, bring on the talent, man! ;) By the by, my cousin has a book on some connection between irregular mental health, let's say, and creative production. I forget what he says--but the guy's a neurologist, so you can imagine it's interesting stuff.

Re: songstresses: I was not talking about the hair and glamour, actually--unless we imagine the hair and glamour and glitz in their glib little scatting voices. I don't know if the greats need the gritty pasts but whatever they had, they certainly had the voices and the feeling, the "thing." :)

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 11 a.m.

Van Gogh cut off his own ear, for cripe's sake!! Many poets and writers commit suicide and musicians seem to have a penchant for drugs. I'd love to read that book. Maybe they need to quiet their brains down. Too much going on.

I think I get the difference re songstresses. The new ones sound too commercial. The difference is maybe that the greats of yesteryear sounded and were real....?

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antigeekess April 20, 2010 @ 11:41 a.m.

Re songbirds, Diana Krall bores me to tears. yawn

As for Alison Krauss, I don't recall ever hearing her sing a note of jazz -- only country/bluegrass (with Union Station, whom I adore) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL8B9NqW86w

...and whatever "Raising Sand" is, with Robert Plant & produced by TBone Burnett, which yielded this major hit.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpjnaGOeHH4

For me, the gold standard for the jazz chenteuse is right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBPD88...

Shiver me timbers and blow me down....She's Jessica Rabbit incarnate. And yes, she's ALWAYS that good. Call her lounge-lizardy if you will, nobody does it better. :)

As for Simon & Garfunkel, my favorite UNdiscovered female singer has a thing for them. She's done a number of covers. Here's one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMnd0e...

Just another diamond off the beaten path.

:)

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antigeekess April 20, 2010 @ 11:52 a.m.

"Not that I wish that on anyone, but there seems to be a connection to great talent and disfunction."

"By the by, my cousin has a book on some connection between irregular mental health, let's say, and creative production."

Absolutely there is. A sucky childhood environment will cause an individual to turn inward to themselves, rather than outward to the world -- which is okay, because that's where all the good stuff is anyway. :)

If there was no suffering, there'd be no artists of any kind -- just happy, bouncy, vapid "people persons" running about annoying the hell out of the rest of us.

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 12:07 p.m.

Jane Monheit is a wonderful singer. Wow. That hair! Okay, I take back my glamour comment. Apparently you can be both glamorous and talented.

Yes, we owe the residents of Dysfunction Junction a huge debt of gratitude for bringing us the good stuff. One of the reasons I left my job was because a lot of the people I dealt with were in sales. I got sick of the fake, plastic, pasted on smiles that were hiding some seriously ugly people. I hate manufactured cheerfulness and cultivated happiness. I like damaged people.

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antigeekess April 20, 2010 @ 12:44 p.m.

You like the Fabulous Miss Jane, Grantie? You gotta see this, then: http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Jane_Monheit_Live_at_the_Rainbow_Room/70024360?strackid=51e2b179cd411638_0_srl&strkid=447421099_0_0&trkid=438381

Incredible. A couple of clips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3NOuhCyZpY

I wanted to post her version of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," but it's gone. :( So here's another one about spring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjgkAHt38NA&feature=related

Okay. That's enough. In these, she's almost enough to make me switch teams.

gaga :)

Thank God she's put on some weight in more recent years. At least we know she's actually human.

http://www.youtube.com/janemonheit http://janemonheitonline.com/

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 1:08 p.m.

Are you sure she is not a cyborg? She is such a great singer, but those looks! It's almost distracting. I'm jealous. Beauty and talent. But in megatons! She had a baby, so that might explain the recent weight gain.

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nan shartel April 20, 2010 @ 1:16 p.m.

hey...have u ever listened to Joss Stone...Canadian... she played Anne of Cleaves in the Tutors

she kinda like Janis J...and has a jazz sound that resonates well

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 1:44 p.m.

Yes, I like Joss Stone, too. She likes to sing barefoot.

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rollo_cabeza April 20, 2010 @ 3:15 p.m.

If you're looking for some good female vocalists and aren't too hung up on the jazz kick then you should check out Feist, if you haven't already heard her. And for some rockier stuff listen to Heartless Bastards.

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MsGrant April 20, 2010 @ 3:59 p.m.

Thanks, Rollo. Giving it up for the ladies!!!

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antigeekess April 20, 2010 @ 4:51 p.m.

Grantie wrote: "Bitterness is fuel."

LOL. Missed this earlier. Now THAT is a t-shirt.

:)

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Origami_Astronaught April 20, 2010 @ 8:19 p.m.

Fave fem vox? The Be Good Tanyas, of course! Try their cover of Neil Young's "For the Turnstiles" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCyk5J...) or Jolie Holland's rendition of "Mad Tom of Bedlam" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZXJuk...). And observe my heart a'meltin.

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MsGrant April 21, 2010 @ 7:50 a.m.

Bitter is the new black, anti.

Jolie Holland has a beautiful voice. Really pretty. I think The Be Good Tanyas broke up? Thanks for the links, OA.

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antigeekess April 21, 2010 @ 8:38 a.m.

"Bitter is the new black, anti."

Then I'm officially Goth.

;^)

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rollo_cabeza April 21, 2010 @ 10:07 a.m.

On a more indie note, try Joanna Newsom. She plays a mean harp. She's an acquired taste to say the least but once you're into it it's hard to get out of.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV1a6UBdrPk&feature=related

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MsGrant April 21, 2010 @ 10:13 a.m.

Rollo, she made one of my cats run out of the room. I'm not so sure about her....the harp, yes. The voice, not so much.

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rollo_cabeza April 21, 2010 @ 11:33 a.m.

Yeah, her voice can be a bit much. Tell your cat I said sorry for the recommendation. Like I said, she's an acquired taste.

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MsGrant April 21, 2010 @ 11:58 a.m.

She forgives you. I gave her a second look and she is a great musician. I just can't get past the voice.

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Origami_Astronaught April 21, 2010 @ 1:13 p.m.

"Somewhere an angel lost its wings."

Too funny. But awesome harp licks.

How could one forget? Zero 7:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5Q5HEtyYQg

Caught 'em at HoB with Phantogram in January. Not so stoked on their new vocalist, but Sia and Tina Dico are out of this world.

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MsGrant April 21, 2010 @ 1:40 p.m.

Good stuff. I really enjoy female musicians who are talented and not some f-ed up package churned out by the music industry. I lost interest in most contemporary music a few years back and switched to NPR. Thanks for restoring my faith.

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antigeekess April 21, 2010 @ 2:24 p.m.

Re #28: Wow. Thanks, Rollo. There's something really powerful about the ethereal quality of the harp, juxtaposed with that earthy, passionate voice of hers. Her attack on that harp is almost frantic -- something like you'd expect from a metalhead on an electric guitar...

I'm not sure what to say about her. It just WORKS. Maybe a bit like chocolate and whisky. :)

She's got me, that's for sure. I like this one a lot, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVx_kV...

This comment on that vid made me smile: nwelty1 This is not my kind of music. I listen to linkin park, metallica, and other rock. I saw her on jimmy fallan and now I watched all of her videos on youtube.Her music gives me goose bumps, and this song makes me well up like a damn girl....amazing how beautiful something can be if you give it a chance.

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Russ Lewis April 21, 2010 @ 2:28 p.m.

"Bjork at age five" is how someone at the Reader once described her.

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