Arts & Events

A Very She & Him Christmas ironic and adorable enough for early October release

She & Him, aka Deschanel and Ward, elevate the status of Christmas albums with their folksy, sweet takes on classics.

When I was growing up, every December my family would drive around the suburbs of Chicago and cruise the neighborhoods with the gaudiest light displays.

Of course, a holiday soundtrack was necessary. Instead of resorting to lite rock radio, my parents would spin their A Very Special Christmas CD on repeat until Bono and Santa began to exist as one.

What was the purpose of only playing trendy rock n’ roll versions of the holiday’s timeless classics? To put it in the simplest terms, it made them feel cool. Maybe not as cool as they had been in their 20s, but nothing was going to make a couple in their late 30s feel more relevant than blasting Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” out of the windows of the family vehicle.

She & Him’s latest release, A Very She & Him Christmas, provides the younger generations with their very own hip holiday album.

Though singer Zooey Deschanel is as vivacious as leftover Christmas ham, M.Ward’s instrumentals and backup vocals are really lovely and his talents bring grace and charm to an album that would have otherwise disappeared into the black hole of celebrity side projects.

The real standouts on this album are the songs that are most familiar. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is one of the few songs that Deschanel seems truly comfortable singing. Her voice sounds looser and gentle versus awkward and disconnected. M.Ward’s instrumentals are understated and bring a retro vibe to the track.

“Silver Bells” is another classic that sounds genuinely good on this album. The melody suits Deschanel and the light guitar strumming turns the song into a lullaby.

Deschanel sounds her best when she isn’t forced to push her vocals outside of a sweet monotone.

If you’re looking for a good laugh, give “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” a listen. This is nothing like Deschanel’s version in “Elf.” M.Ward plays the helpless love interest to Deschanel’s Christmas creeper.

While M.Ward sounds delightfully folky and fluid, Deschanel’s vocals are downright tense and strange. Instead of purring like the sexy eggnog-filled temptress she’s portraying, she sounds more like she’s having verbal diarrhea.

Overall, Deschanel struggles to keep up with the peppier tunes, “Little Saint Nick” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” for example, but for the daintier classics her vocals do pull through nicely.

Not all Christmas albums are created equal, but 20 years from now I have a hunch that Deschanel’s inability to match M.Ward’s musical prowess will be the least of your concerns.

Buy this record, don’t bother to take it out of the plastic wrapping, and wait until you’re feeling middle-aged to give it a whirl.

Nothing will bring you back to the days of your hipster prime like a good ol’ She & Him holiday album.



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