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)
Listen to Me: A Tribute to Buddy Holly was released so shortly after the Rave On Buddy Holly that it got lost in the shuffle of my review folder last year. Even months later, Listen to Me still suffers by comparison to the other Buddy Holly tribute. This is at least in part due to what seems to be a bit of a musical identity crisis – some truly great folk and rockabilly moments are lost betwixt bland pop covers and random classic rock. It’s good enough to bother reviewing, but had the potential to be so much better.
The opening cover of “Not Fade Away” by Stevie Nicks can’t hold a candle to Florence & The Machine’s wailing, quaking rendition on Rave On Buddy Holly, but it is nonetheless endearingly peppy and handclappy.
Imelda May‘s brassed up, punk meets rockabilly take on “Lookin’ for Someone to Love” and Linda Rhondstadt’s classic 1976 cover of “That’ll Be The Day” are highlights.
The stand out track is a beautiful piano and vioin rendering of “Learning the Game” by Natalie Merchant.
Fall Out Boy singer, Patrick Stump, gives a surprisingly gentle and melodic version of “Everyday,” but I was disappointed with Zooey Deschanel‘s “It’s So Easy.” I usually love anything she sings, but this particular arrangement weighs her voice down.
The humorous spoken word “Raining in My Heart” by Monty Python’s Eric Idle is the tribute’s bizarre finale. Otherwise, this is a very safe, adult contemporary collection of Buddy Holly covers. Which isn’t a bad thing, just nothing to get excited about.