She & Him consist of American actor Zooey Deschanel and Merge Records singer/songwriter M. Ward, an unexpected musical duo making the kind of sunny-day pop that would’ve crackled through the radio during its golden age.
Deschanel’s voice is of distant vintage – frank, assured and refreshingly devoid of the pitch-corrected gloss favoured by modern-day pop stars. She writes old-fashioned love songs enhanced by Ward’s expert arrangements and reverberated girl-group harmonies. Volume One is a mostly one-take deal; there are off-key notes, near-miss flourishes, affected country twang and occasional grating, bombastic qualities to Deschanel’s voice – which sits very loud in the mix.
But when she slips into her softer, lower register the results are as breathtaking as the Elf star’s blue eyes.
She & Him hit the Opera House July 23.