She & Him (a.k.a. M. Ward and New Girl‘s Zooey Deschanel) just announced the upcoming release and tracklist of their new covers album, Classics. Set for release on December 2nd, Classics will include She & Him’s interpretation of a wide range of “golden oldies” — from Broadyway and Bacharach to Sinatra and Dusty Springfield.
1. “Stars Fell on Alabama”
2. “Oh No, Not My Baby”
3. “It’s Not for Me to Say”
4. “Stay Awhile”
5. “This Girl’s in Love With You”
6. “Time After Time”
8. “Teach Me Tonight”
9. “It’s Always You”
10. “Unchained Melody”
11. “I’ll Never Be Free”
12. “Would You Like to Take a Walk”
13. “We’ll Meet Again”
She & Him’s Volume 3 was one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Regular readers know I’m a big fan of She & Him’s first two albums and have loved Zooey Deschanel’s voice since her Elf days. So it’s with a heavy heart that I must give Volume 3 a less than positive review.
I tried, really I did. I’ve played the album on repeat for weeks and told myself I was being overly cynical. I took it on sunny day drives and endeavored to just enjoy the music without thinking about this review. But every single time I play it, the first half of the album just annoys me.
Zooey’s voice is still very pretty and M Ward’s instrumentation is lush as always, but the problems lies in the lyrical structure of certain tracks.
The opener “I’ve Got Your Number, Son” isn’t terrible, but I always hit skip half way through tracks 2 through 4 due to their repetitive nature. “Never Wanted Your Love” and “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” were ok as singles, but I find them extremely irksome in the context of the album – where they are lumped together with the gooey “Baby.” It feels like a paint-by-numbers approach to songwriting – write one verse and one chorus, then put ’em on a loop for the duration of the track. Rinse and repeat for the next four songs. Honestly, after hearing One Mile An Hour‘s beautiful, thoughtful debut, Volume 3‘s shallow construct sadly reminded me of the South Park episode in which manatees randomly cobble together Family Guy shows.
But perhaps that’s overly harsh for what’s obviously meant to be a light bit o’ pop. The new dance party video for “I Could’ve Been Your Girl,” which you can watch below, is cute at least.
The second half of the album is a completely different story and emphasizes why I dislike the beginning so much. When She & Him are good, they are really, really good. The album’s strength lies in the lower key melodies, which showcase both the lovely depth of Zooey’s voice and the intricacies of Ward’s playing.
The pretty piano ballad “London” is by far the standout track.
I also adore “Turn to White,” which features the heart-punch lyric “I’m stronger than the picture that you took before you left.”
Other highlights are the cover of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and “Snow Queen.”
So I at least recommend buying those four mp3s. I just don’t see myself listening to the entire Volume 3 album as much as I have its spectacular predecessors – particularly Volume Two, which has become my default road trip CD.
She & Him (a.k.a. New Girl star Zooey Deschanel and singer-songwriter M. Ward) are sharing another song from their upcoming album, Volume 3. She & Him thankfully don’t seem to be deviating from their summery retro pop sound. If it ain’t broke and all that. You can stream “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” below and their first single, “Never Wanted Your Love,” is still streamable in our March post. Volume 3 will be released on May 7th.
She & Him (a.k.a. Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward) will release Volume 3 on May 7th. An album of 11 new, original songs and 3 covers, Volume 3 will feature guest appearances by Mike Watt, Tilly & the Wall and members of Rilo Kiley and Devotchka. You can hear the album’s first sunny single, “Never Wanted Your Love,” and view the album’s track list below…
Volume 3 Tracklist
1. I’ve Got Your Number, Son
2. Never Wanted Your Love
4. I Could’ve Been Your Girl
5. Turn to White
6. Somebody Sweet to Talk To
7. Something’s Haunting You
9. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me
10. Snow Queen
11. Sunday Girl
13. Shadow of Love
14. Reprise (I Could’ve Been Your Girl)
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are back She & Him: Volume Two, the aptly titled followup to She & Him: Volume One (one of my Top Albums of 2008). Volume Two is certainly the “feel-good album” that Zooey calls it. The duo have recorded another collection of airy, retro-styled pop songs fleshed out with folk instrumenation.
I want to be where your heart is home,
I want to see you with the light in the morning
An advance of Volume Two was leaked online by NPR weeks ago, but I waited for the proper review copy from the label – which didn’t arrive until after the release date. I don’t know if the prolonged anticipation and hype raised my expectations too high or if it simply suffered by comparison to the magnificentalbums that’ve already been released this year, but my initial reaction was one of disappointment. So much so I originally wrote a cynical review comparing it to lackluster sequels that “continue the franchise but neither surpass nor fully recapture the magic of the original.”
But wait, I was so wrong! I decided to give the album another chance without the weight of preconceptions and comparisons to its predecessor. And instead of listening to the digital promo on my computer, I burned it to CD and took it for a drive. This time around I was able to appreciate this album for what it is rather than what it isn’t. And then I fell in love with it.
Whereas Volume One was an intimate, romantic album centered on Zooey’s voice, Volume Two is a breezy pop soundtrack for summer. The songs, vocals, and instrumentation are upbeat and harmonious, often calling to mind classic girl pop groups. While it’s not a great departure from the first album (hence the title), it has a much lighter mood.
Volume Two features original songs penned by Zooey Deschanel as well as two covers – NRBQ’s “Ridin’ In My Car” and the Skeeter Davis song “Gonna Get Along Without You.” Zooey again takes lead vocal, though this time her voice melts more into the arrangements. The first single “In the Sun” features guest vocals by Tilly and the Wall, and it’s definitely one of the standout tracks. My personal favorites are the sweet love song “Home” and the a capella finale “If You Can Sleep.”