Friday, December 12, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: She & Him "Classics"

RECORD REVIEW
 She & Him
Classics
Columbia Records
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The tunes are timeless. 
The duo is dynamic.
And the record — 
a delightful treat.
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While not quite as snappy as the duo's 2013 effort, Volume 3, the 2014 offering from pop sensation, She & Him, certainly is engaging, and possesses an ample portion of the charm and full-bodied flavor that fans have come expect. A fabulously heartfelt 13-song retro set, vocalist Zooey Deschanel and guitarist / producer / arranger M. Ward succeed in serving up a savory slew of standards — a compelling collection that also showcases an array of legendary songwriters. Let's peruse a few hot buttons — shall we?

The 1964 Carole King / Gerry Goffin-penned classic,"Oh No, Not My Baby," is one of the livelier tunes of the set — another (slightly) upbeat winner being the remake of Dusty Springfield's 1964 debut hit, "Stay Awhile." Driven by Deschanel's angelic, sugar cookie vocals and Ward's signature groovy-sounding guitar style, these tracks make for two of the record's shiniest highlights.

Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, "This Guy's In Love With You" was a colossal #1 chartbuster for Herb Alpert in 1968  and it remains one of the greatest pop love songs of all time. And by putting a female spin on the lyrics, "This Girl's In Love With You" is a bona fide gem  easily making Classics worth every penny that I paid. In fact, this is the track that Deschanel and Ward should be hocking on the TV talk show circuit.

The latest from She & Him
 makes me happy that I'm not dead.
Taking a (much) "less is more" production approach, the painfully over-covered "Unchained Melody" merely offers Ward's soft and subtle guitar accompaniment pinned against the honest and pure vocal union of Deschanel and The Chapin Sisters. Truly a unique and chilling interpretation.

Oddly, the BIG payoff comes early  in the record's opening track, "Stars Fell on Alabama." Deschanel's performance on this 1930s jazz standard, particularly during the song's last 25 seconds, proves why she is one of the greatest female pop vocalists of the last half-century  second only to perhaps Karen Carpenter.

In sum, Classics is a treasure — one of the year's best. (SheAndHim.com)

-Christopher Long
(December 2014)


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