Review Summary: A great Christmas album that captures the essence of good old fashioned holiday music.
Oh boy, it’s that special time of the year again! Shortly after Halloween the grocery stores will be filled with holiday items and sales to get you in the Christmas spirit. People will start hitting the slopes and Coffee joints like Starbucks will also be adding to the season with their delicious pumpkin spice lattes or their seasonal peppermint mochas. The holidays really do have a lot to offer, but one thing that’s always stood out to me is the music.
Christmas music is hard to beat because it captures a simpler time. I mean, what other holiday has inspired an entire genre of music in such a large way? Legends like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby helped set the standards for the genre with their jolly tunes and their fantastic voices. Unfortunately, most Christmas music of our generation comes across as too gimmicky or over-produced which takes most of the magic out of the music. There are still bands however that have proven they could make genuine Christmas music and do it with class. One of these bands is She and Him.
For those who don’t already know, She and Him is comprised of actress Zooey Deschanel and musician M. Ward. They make simple yet enjoyable indie/folk rock and they have effectively transferred their sound into their first Christmas album. Although more relaxed than the band’s other albums, its still the She and Him many of us have grown to love. Rather than trying too hard or relying on production, A Very She and Him Christmas
is refreshingly normal. I say normal because this is how Christmas music should be; simple and relaxed, but very jolly.
Both musicians compliment each other very well, Zooey providing the unique vocals and Ward showing his skill with the guitar. There are light drums on some songs, but for the most part the album is made up of Zooey’s likeable voice backed by Ward’s exceptional guitar playing. Every song flows smoothly as the duo clearly knows exactly what they’re doing. Ward never overdoes it on the guitar. He always provides just enough to add feeling to the song without overshadowing Deschanel’s signature voice. Same goes for Zooey, she may not have the most range for a singer, but she stays in her comfort zone, never straining her voice or going over the top. The result is twelve lighthearted and beautiful Christmas carols.
Some may feel like this album is lacking creativity or energy, but I disagree. Look at Bing Crosby. He never went over the top instrumentally, but he didn’t have to. Christmas music is best when it’s in its most pure and unadulterated form and this is something She and Him know quite well. Obviously, Zooey’s voice can’t hold a candle to the likes of Sinatra or Crosby, but there’s something very likeable about her vocals and they have a definite charm about them. She sounds great in songs like ‘Silver Bells’ or ‘Sleigh Ride’, as she is more upbeat and adds charisma to the experience. Ward also provides vocals in songs like ‘Christmas Wish’ and he sounds amazing. It’s too bad they didn’t use his vocals in more songs, because he’s a great singer as well and his voice suits this style of music.
A Very She and Him Christmas
is an album that any fan of holiday music will likely enjoy. It can’t be compared to the timeless classics, but it’s an honest and charming offering, especially for our generation. My only complaint is that it could have been better as I know Ward is holding back with his guitar work. His subtle, but talented guitar playing fits the songs nicely, but I think he could have provided more to the album without taking away from Zooey’s singing. That doesn’t keep it from being a great Christmas album, however. From the soothing guitar notes in ‘The Christmas Waltz’, to the peppy vocals on ‘Little Saint Nick’, the album is a harmless and enjoyable collection of holiday songs.