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Movie Star to Throwback Pop Star 

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She & Him

Volume One

Merge Records

Volume One is the debut album and collaboration of indie film favorite Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous, Elf) and guitar-folk musician M. Ward. The pair met while collaborating on a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson's "When I Get to the Border" for the soundtrack of the film The Go-Getter. After years of secretly creating home mix tapes of her songs and performing a cabaret act of jazz standards, Deschanel felt she had met the right person to collaborate with in M. Ward.


To Ward's credit, his solo work expressively concludes that he's a good match. Listen to "Here Comes the Sun Again," from his album Transistor Radio for proof. With 10 originals and three covers the album ping-pongs back and forth between a 1960s Nashville vibe on tracks like "You Got Me," as well as Motown and jazz sounds. Spanning all these genres, one would expect the new record to sound something like Ray Charles, but instead it's reminiscent of Dusty Springfield/Rita Coolidge or Martha Reeves & The Vandellas on tracks like "Sweet Darlin'," which was co-written with fellow actor Jason Schwartzman, of Rushmore fame. While some may draw comparisons to the likes of her obvious contemporaries, Jenny Lewis and Neko Case, Deschanel employs her own unique take on the style and proves she is capable of impassioned delivery and tone. The song "I Was Made for You" is a dead-on capture of an early '60s girl group Motown tune, perhaps most specifically 1962's "Buttered Popcorn" by The Supremes, complete with the background vocals ("uh huh", "ohhs" and giggles).

The duo encapsulates that warm, reverb friendly, pop tone created only by tube, analog technology and reel-to-reel recording common in the '60s and '70s, but rarely done today. On their website the pair calls the album "a love letter to the musicians who inspired it." - a disclaimer to those who want to throw out the obviously clichéd comparisons.

Tauna Leonardo

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