The most magical season of the year has already begun, the time in which Christmas carols and classics replace the year’s Pop tunes on the radio, however this year, they will also be replaced by classics of a new kind. Classics by the duo of duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward aka She & Him, takes us back to the era of dance halls and slow-dance songs, where jazz and romance had couples dancing cheek to cheek.
This golden era gave birth to legendary musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Dusty Springfield, whose works have been covered a high number of times, but not like this by She & Him. Classics is a compilation of Deschanel and Ward’s favorite oldies, and we plainly state here that the duo’s charming renditions make us fall in love with their versions as much as we are in love with the original ones.
“Stars Fell On Alabama”:
Classics opens up gently, their first insight into the album starting with a tribute to the 1934 song “Stars Fell On Alabama”. Deschanel leads the ballad with her beautiful vocals, with Ward joining towards the end, being one of the few occasions his harsh voice takes part in on Classics. Their first admirable effort is comforting and it already leave us wanting to listen longer.
Their next unique take is enjoyable and smooth, and it’s easy to realize that “Oh No, Not My Baby” is one of the highlights of the album, almost competing with “Stay Awhile” to get the first position. Undoubtedly, the latter, residing as the fourth track on the album, comes soon enough for its listener to recognize Classics as an album that couldn’t leave one indifferent, with a piece that sings to the emptiness that the lover leaves when he’s gone, and Deschanel and Ward do a great job portraying it in their music video.
And to keep it laid-back and daydreaming of old times, Frank Sinatra’s “Time After Time” is another suitable track to be added to their retro tracklist. Deschanel and Ward team up here to perform an harmonic duet, and their voices provide a good balance, backed with a slow drumming and a lively trumpet instrumentation, making the song stylish and breezy. Following this interchanging singing roles, Ward takes control of the vocals on “She”, leaving Deschanel aah-ing in the background along with jingle bells and a trumpet that makes you sway. In fact, he should do it more often, as we believe he is convincing when he sings.
“Time After Time”:
It is, indeed, an album that represents the delicacy and innocence of romance and love in the first half of the 20th century, and Deschanel’s naive attitude proves it right in “Teach Me Tonight”. Her disposition is both childish and mature, and possesses the courage to say things like “I’ve played loves scenes in a flick or two, and I’ve also met a chick or two/ But I still can learn a trick or two, teach me tonight”. But this naiveté is willing to be put aside in “Would You Like To Take A Walk?” which evokes a willing Deschanel asking out a manly Ward, a conversation-like song easy to picture as a spring day meeting in the park.
Having had substantial reception with previous releases Volume One, Volume Two and Volume 3, and their Christmas album A Very She & Him Christmas in between, the duo have surpassed themselves with Classics, a record we didn’t expect to be this good – although their first release “Stay Awhile” proved it to be a promising album. It is inevitable to think they feel very comfortable covering Jazz classics and they succeed in keeping oldies forever young.
For an album that has been recorded live with a 20-piece orchestra, its merit is worth commenting on. She & Him prove themselves capable of shaping an album whose arrangements give fresh renditions to classics of great musicians, approaching it with sentiment and nostalgia. Anyone would consider this task quite risky, especially considering the greatness of the golden artists, but if they were looking for a vintage album with a fine taste, the duo have managed to build it from the right angle.
Purchase: She & Him – Classics (iTunes)