For all of you who couldn’t get enough of Zooey Deschanel singing Christmas songs in 2003 film, Elf, you are in luck. Fans of her awkward-but-innocent shower duet with Will Ferrell have been waiting patiently for an album full of Christmas tunes, and A Very She & Him Christmas does not disappoint.
Miss Deschanel has been making music with indie/folk artist M. Ward under the moniker “She & Him” since 2006. Their albums Volume One and Volume Two have successfully merged Deschanel’s sleepy retro vocals with Ward’s indie throwback sound, for a combination of AM radio gold. Recreating old tunes like “You Really Got a Hold on Me” and “Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now” while coming up with originals that recreate that lo-fi sound, the duo has earned a spot in indie fans’ hearts (young and old) all over.
For their Christmas album, She & Him have picked some of their favorite songs over the years and assembled a compilation of twelve tunes that meant the most to them growing up. Containing no originals, their covers remind me of my parents old albums I used to listen to as a kid like The Carpenters and Beach Boys Christmas records. The nostalgia and whimsy run throughout the entire disc, and while it could be a little too slow for some people, I think the mellow tunes provide the perfect mood music for any Christmas party.
Starting off with lesser known gems like “The Christmas Waltz” and the Beach Boys’ “Christmas Day,” the mood is set, and if you are expecting bubbly or energetic like Deschanel’s character Jess, in The New Girl, you might be let down. Her vocals are subdued, but still beautiful, and by the time she hits “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” you’ll definitely start to feel this album, and appreciate just what She & Him have put together.
“Christmas Wish” gives Ward the main vocals and finds a bit more harmonizing between the two, and Deschanel’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” definitely has some similarities to The Pretenders’ version (which had previously been one of my favorite.) Zooey gets the ukulele out for a couple fun ones like the other Beach Boys track to make the cut, “Little Saint Nick,” and Ward gets his fifties flavor with some fancy guitar licks on “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
By the time we get to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” She & Him take what you expected them to do, and flip it on its head a bit. What is normally kind of creepy song if you read the lyrics “The neighbors might think…Say, what’s in this drink?” comes off at an upbeat tempo and the guy/girl parts switched, where Zooey is the one doing the wooing. Much less awkward than the version she did on the Elf Soundtrack with Leon Redbone (fifty years her senior), and it even has some fun whistling thrown in for good measure.
Throw on the album, light a fire and pour some eggnog. It’s not a deeply profound, and avoids any religious Christmas songs, but it’s a fun little disc to put into your Christmas mix this season, and definitely brings back the sounds of fifties and sixties.
Try This Track: “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”