She & Him

She & Him release not your average Classics

M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel cover Johnny Mathis, Dusty Springfield, Dame Vera Lynn and Charles Aznavour among others on fifth album.

When you cover Johnny Mathis, Dusty Springfield, Dame Vera Lynn and weird-ass French pop singers like Charles Aznavour (and many more) on an album and call it Classics that’s making a statement.

Alt-whatever duo She & Him keep it sweet and distant on their fifth album and take a soft focus approach to a well considered and eccentric selection of songs. The twosome of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (the former on vocals, keys, ukulele and the latter on guitar, vocals, and production) have honed in on a hazy Burt Bacharach infused horizon that’s piloted by Deschanel’s honeyed voice and the duo’s placid reverb-laden performance.

Classics has a calming stop-time effect. Ward’s syrupy production and muted use of horns and twangy, proto-rock guitar are a signpost to nostalgia but they don’t require sentiment.  Classics is more about an ambiance of sound and style for its own sake rather than rehashing familiar standards. It’s a fresh creative angle as the record is a potential curiosity.

It’s a lazy album that pays no lip service to drama but has unintentional moments of spookiness where the sound of the past strays on into the present (I’ll Never Be Free, We’ll Meet Again).

Deschanel and Ward are playing on the languorous side of the arrangements and the swooning sounds on Classics are what would have been heard on an AM radio console in some late ‘50s Chevrolet or Ford, preferably powder blue. The heartsick abandon is played out for all its worth on the tremolo laden Unchained Melody.

The low energy drags on songs such as Would You Like to Take a Walk and It’s Not For Me to Say that come across as trite, highlighting the sappiness of the songwriting. That’s not bad, considering the pool of material they’ve chosen from.

The group has a talent for re-framing the sound of a forgotten (or overlooked) style of popular music and resurrecting it on their own terms. Classics has a distant quality that is still warm and candid. After all, who would think to cover a song like She?

Dean Gordon-Smith is The Morning Star’s music reviewer. His column, Streets Sounds, appears every Friday.

 

Just Posted

Vernon Vipers open BCHL training camp

Defending Interior Conference champs open pre-season slate Friday at home vs Grande Prairie (AJHL)

No costs as directed upsets Vernon councillor

Scott Anderson and council still waiting for as-directed costs on hiring private security firm

Midnight fist fight leads to arrest in Vernon

An Edmonton man was arrested following the fight; the other man has not yet been located

Two drowning incidents on Okanagan Lake serve as safety reminder

B.C. drowning fatalities down compared to August 2018

Vernon summer concert series extended

Extra week added to Downtown Vernon Association’s popular summer concerts at city hall

Memorial grows for teen who drowned in Okanagan Lake

Jaxsn Cahill drowned at Gellatly Bay Park in West Kelowna on Aug. 17

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Valdy gives volunteers a hand after Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival

Celebrated Canadian singer pitched in alongside starstruck clean-up crew

Latino-American rock ‘n’ roll band The Mavericks coming to the Okanagan

Kelowna is the only B.C. stop on the band’s worldwide tour

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

‘Ghost bike’ memorial installed where Okanagan cyclist was killed by truck

Ernie Gabbs, 69, died at the corner of Dillworth Drive and Harvey Avenue in Kelowna on Aug. 12

It’s back! Aritzia releases annual warehouse sale dates

Your favourite summer end sale is back and ready to take your money

Most Read