She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas
What could be more Christmassy than having Buddy The Elf’s girlfriend serenade you for a dozen songs over the course of half an hour? Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward pair up for an instant classic of an xMas album, occasionally inviting legend Jim Keltner in to provide percussion.
M. Ward’s guitar work is so nuanced on this album that he and the instrument might as well be one and the same. On “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” it really is the spaces between the notes that make the song special. I love a brash guitar but I also love it when someone can say more with a handful of carefully chosen notes than most can say in a minute-long wailing guitar solo.
Zooey Deschanel’s voice is like crystal wrapped in velvet, but it loses a little something when she drops into a lower register, as on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” It’s by no means bad, but she doesn’t have the expressiveness that she has in the higher range. Regardless, it’s a pleasure to listen to.
Ward shares vocal duties on “Christmas Wish” and a couple others, and his voice is very serviceable but nothing to set him apart from most other male vocalists. He’s got a great style to his delivery, though, just the slightest hint of chalk – not quite gravel – at the beginning of certain lines or words that brings a depth to his work that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
This is a very sweet xMas album, front to back. It is as though they went into it with the aim to conjure up extra marshmallows on your hot chocolate, extra whiskers on kittens, extra snowflakes on your nose and eyelashes. It’s really a remarkable effect, listening to this, to almost regain the wonder of childhood around the holiday season. Admittedly, it makes it hard to remain a grinch. I won’t go so far as to say that this album made my heart grow three sizes this day, but I might have felt it twitch once or twice.
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Tune in for tomorrow for the next installment in the 12 Days Of xMas Music.
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Until next time, keep those discs spinning. Merry Christmas and all the rest…