She & Him
Five years after A Very She & Him Christmas, Zoey Deschanel and M. Ward are back with another selection of holiday tunes suitable for coffee shops and sedate gatherings. Zoey takes center stage on most of the album, but Ward shines providing counterpoint on “The Coldest Night of the Year.” In addition, The Chapin Sisters and Jenny Lewis provide vocal assists throughout the album, while Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) provides drums on all tracks.
As far as I am concerned, “All I Want For Christmas” is worth the purchase price of the album all by itself. Zoey’s voice perfectly fits with the production, bringing a Leslie Gore/Ronnie Spector vibe to the Mariah Carey modern classic. “Happy Holiday” is served up as a bouncy jazz number, with a prominent bass line. “Must Be Santa” is a bit of a disappointment. It is fine on its own, but doesn’t stand out. The again, to me, everyone else pales after hearing the Brave Combo version. The really surprising take is listening to Ward slow down “Run, Run Rudolph,” a track that begs for an up tempo treatment. When it started slow, I figured it would kick in at the chorus, or the second verse, but it never did.
I expected a solo performance from Zoey accompanied by nothing but a ukulele. And while we do get it, it is not “Mele Kalikimaka,” the Hawaiian Christmas song. Instead, it is the closing track, “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” commonly associated with Chipmunks. Oddly, it works as a lullaby, and the Hawaiian track still has an island feel to it.
Ok, by now everyone reading this already has an opinion on She & Him. Their second mixed bag of Christmas songs will do nothing to sway that opinion. If you are a fan of their retro arrangements and breathy vocals, you will gladly play this at your holiday gatherings. If you find everything associated with Zoey Deschanel to be annoyingly cute and twee, you can safely pass on this.