She & Him: Volume 2

If you have seen any film where Zooey Deschanel’s character sings (2003’s Elf and 2008’s Yes Man are a couple of examples), you’ve probably wondered whether or not you were hearing her real voice. Though her vocals were almost certainly overdubbed, you might be surprised to learn that, yes, she is that good, and unlike many movie stars turned singers, her albums don’t blow.

In addition to having a great singing voice, Deschanel is a pretty good songwriter as exhibited here as one half—the female half—of the indie folk band, She & Him. She plays piano and admirably carries lead vocal duties on this, the duo’s excellent second album, Volume 2.

The group’s other half, M. Waard, plays the guitars, provides backing vocals on an album and produces Volume 2. Bolstered by studio musicians who provide what you would expect to hear on a folk album; bass, drums, mandolin, pedal steel and various string instruments, this is an authentic sounding record that will make you smile with well-written, well-orchestrated and wistful love songs.

The group varies their formula, at times flirting with gospel, country and pop but never sounding half-hearted or derivative. Volume 2 leisurely strolls through thirteen tracks, each complementing the last with good arrangements and poignant lyrics sung in Deschanel’s husky but soothing alto.

In A Word: Charming