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She & Him give an early Christmas gift to fans

Thursday, December 15, 2011

(Photo)
Matt Ward and Zooey Deschanel team up for "A Very She & Him Christmas".
For fans sentimental for a simpler time in music, there's been no better source in recent years than the duo of Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward.

As the indie combo She & Him, the pair has produced a pair of albums that would have been right at home in the music world 50 years ago.

So it should be no surprise that when Deschanel and Ward turned their attention to Christmas music, the result, "A Very She & Him Christmas" was right on the mark. At this most sentimental time of year, who better to deliver that oldtime Christmas feeling?

With their first two records, She & Him featured mainly Deschanel originals with a few classics sprinkled in.

For the Christmas album, it looks like they went through their record collections picking what classics they could record. You hear Frank Sinatra ("Have Yourself and Merry Little Christmas", "The Christmas Waltz"), Elvis ("Blue Christmas", "I'll Be Home for Christmas") the Beach Boys ("Little Saint Nick", "Christmas Day"), Brenda Lee, Nat King Cole and other classic artists.

The most interesting selection on the record is "Baby It's Cold Outside." The pop standard is given the fun treatment it deserves, but the gender roles are flipped.

Turning the usual arrangement on its ear, it is Deschanel, not Ward, trying to do the seducing, insisting that "it's cold outside."

It's the kind of modern treatment to classic-sounding songs this duo has been performing for three albums now, and it's what makes them so endearing.

Adding to the reasons to check the album out is that proceeds from its sale are being donated to 826 National, a nonprofit network of tutoring and writing centers.

My spin: B+

With "A Very She & Him Christmas," the band gives fans exactly what they'd expect -- an understated collection of favorites carried by Deschanel's haunting voice and Ward's skillful arrangements.

It's a record worth checking out by indie rock and golden oldie fans alike.

She & Him

A Very She & Him Christmas

Released: Oct. 24 on Merge

She: Zooey Deschanel-vocals, pianos, ukulele

Him: M. Ward-vocals, guitar, organ, producer

Additonal players: Jim Keltner-percussion, Pierre de Reeder-percussion

Learn more at: www.sheandhim.com