Best of 2008: #15, She & Him

Rank: #15
Album: Volume One
Artist: She & Him
Label: Merge Records

Our next record on the countdown is #15, She & Him's Volume One.  Do you remember the sultry, classic voice of Jovie in the movie Elf?  Well, for those who might have forgotten, here's the source of it- the highly talented Zooey Deschanel.  As the story goes, Deschanel and M. Ward met on the set of a movie, started discussing music, and before they knew it, they were constructing Volume One via e-mail.  This record, a nice collection of Deschanel originals and a few covers, just screams Motown.  It's also got enough of a hint of the Saddle Creek sound- the source of the contributing musicians- to get some indie cred.  According to Deschanel herself, they are currently working on material for Volume Two.

From the start of opener "Sentimental Heart," you just know you're in for a treat with this album.  Switching back and forth from doo-woppy ballads to more bouncy melodies that evoke memories of The Supremes and Frankie Valli, among others, this quick record takes you on a trip down memory lane, even if your own memory only takes you as far as the 80s.  As far as Deschanel and M. Ward's cover choices, I also must commend them, as they picked out songs that not only fit her vocal style, but almost sound as if they were made for her.  Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got Your Hold On Me" is redone as a slow, western duet between the two.  You almost forget that "I Should Have Known Better" was a hit from The Beatles.  And, as far as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is concerned, the only words I can use to describe it are beautifully haunting.  Though I think I've thoroughly described this one already, feel free to consult Jenny Lewis, Ingrid Michaelson and The Marvelettes.

Best Track: "This Is Not A Test"

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