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September 24, 2010

Music Review: She and Him: Volume 1 & 2 (2008, 2010)

by Hollis Jay

As I listened to Volume One and Volume Two of She & Him, I am left with only one nagging question: Why does Zooey Deschanel continue to act? Yes, I am left perplexed by her astoundingly big eyes and her clean almost slate like face which seems to be pondering-just like we are-why am I here…but, she doesn’t need to try to act anymore when she can just sing. For it is in her singing and songwriting in which she shines. The she (Zooey) and the him (M. Ward) create a wonderful construction of music. For a minute, if I closed my eyes I thought that I was listening to a young Dolly Parton or The Carpenters all over again except without that picky eating disorder.

Buy She & Him: Volume 1

As Zooey tunes in with folk sounding songs like “In the Sun” and “Thieves”, she also plays a bit with the original girl groups of the late 1950’s with “Don’t Look Back.” I can tell you that I was still listening to this cd in my head, even after the music stopped. Charming is the word that I kept writing down, as I listened to every song play in my car. The two cds should definitely be listened to together, as they seemingly tell the story of a young woman’s search for life and love.

Volume one opens with “Sentimental Heart” which seems to imply that our character has just suffered a breakup, stating: “take it hard just like you knew I would” and “cried all night ‘til there was nothing more.” We are then led towards her rebirth, as a new person on the search for her love, especially with “I think you’re just so pleasant- I would like you for my own” to “Change is Hard” and “I know he’s yours and he’ll never belong to me again.”

Volume Two plays along with the idea of our single girl and reminds us of her previous affair by stating “that love like ours is terrible news” and “I’m not a prophet, old love is in me- new love just seeps right in-and makes me guilty” with “that won’t stop me crying over you.” She is still love lost and forlorn, but in the prettiest way, letting us know that she “had some brand new shoes-they were all red, but they gave me the blues.” Her allegory for love is contagious, and so is her voice.

In the second volume, Zooey’s ideas become more confident, as does her character and she seems to take more chances in regards to her role as a songwriter. Maybe, it’s because she finally realized that she is really good at this and that she can put that finicky film career to an end. But, one also hopes-especially as we venture into Volume Two-that she would take more chances within her rhythms instead of filling in the missing pieces with too many repeating and refraining verses. For as fanciful as we believe her to be, we can’t wait for her to grow up because if her lyrics are this good when she’s sad they are going to be even better when she’s in love.

Buy She & Him: Volume 2

The him part, which seems to be ignored primarily based on Zooey’s past experiences in the movie industry, adds not only his voice to some of the songs but plays the piano, the guitar, the mandolin, and a synthesizer. He completes Zooey’s wonderland approach to music, but adds a somewhat heavy hand to her light and airy wisps. This heavy hand is needed through to mellow out and cool down some of the verses with thoughtful music.

Together, they produce merriment of medley. I can only hope that Volume Three is around the corner.

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