Title: “A Very She & Him Christmas”
Artist: She & Him
Release date: 2011
Favorite track: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
She & Him is almost an acquired taste.
Zooey Deschanel’s vocals — which largely characterize the duo’s sound — are old-fashioned, deep and soothing. But, they are also quirky and don’t feature much variation.
In other words, if you like one song, you will like them all. If you don’t like one song, you might not like any of them.
When the mood is right, I adore Deschanel’s singing, and the calm, reflective nature of She & Him’s music. I also find Deschanel and guitarist/producer Matthew Ward wonderfully qualified to create their own style of Christmas music.
People who feel loyal to the traditional Christmas musicians won’t feel like they’re betraying them because of She & Him’s retro flair. People who enjoy modern holiday music will feel drawn to the pair’s eclectic twist.
I think since it was released in 2011, “A Very She & Him Christmas” has begun to earn its place in the collection of classic Christmas albums.
The record commences with Deschanel singing the first few high-pitched notes of “The Christmas Waltz.” While the lyrics are optimistic, this is definitely a somber start in comparison to the standard merry, jolly Christmas album.
It’s that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear
Seems to say
May your new year’s dreams come true”
— “The Christmas Waltz”
It sets a relaxing tone for the remainder.
“Christmas Day” is slightly more upbeat, but I wouldn’t expect this album to lift your spirits. As Deschanel sings in the lyrics, the Christmas spirit does, indeed, appear to be growing.
What I like about this track is the addition of a background chorus. While Deschanel’s voice is full on its own, the cooing of multiple vocals certainly makes it sound more Christmasy.
I love the songs “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and they’re perfectly suited for Deschanel’s deeper range. This is where she truly shines. “Blue Christmas” is another example of this.
Hearing these tracks makes me yearn for a sweater and a mug of hot cocoa. The pared down versions featuring only an echoe-y guitar and vocals are appropriate for the song.
In an instant, I feel as if I’m at a Christmas party in the 1950s. She & Him has such a natural aptitude for capturing the vintage feel.
“Christmas Wish” has an unexpectedly beachy flavor with fantastic harmonies. Something like this wouldn’t seem out of place amid one of today’s indie pop rock albums. It’s the first to feature male vocals.
“Sleigh Ride” is the most fast-paced on the album. It’s not my favorite, but I enjoy its country-western vibes. I also appreciate the way the lyrics complement Deschanel’s vocal vibes.
“Silver Bells” disappointed me. This seemed like the time to pull out all the stops, and She & Him didn’t pull out any.
I looked forward to my favorite holiday song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which came next. I didn't hate it, but I prefer the traditional version.
“The Christmas Song” concludes the album with Deschanel’s deeper register, which mystifies me again. This moody, broody Christmas album definitely leaves a lingering feeling or two.
While this isn’t the type of record that wows you, it might slow things down around you — something I find we all need during the holidays.
You really can’t go wrong with a high-quality holiday photograph of the lovely duo, Deschanel and Ward.
The front cover features a playful, vintage-inspired image of the two. The back cover features them looking adorable in red, with Deschanel wearing a Santa hat.
It’s simple and classic, much like the music.