She & Him defied the odds with Volume One by putting actress Zooey Deschanel and musician M. Ward together with a set of her songs that met critical success.
Volume Two, the appropriately titled second album from the duo, continues the trend, with Ward pulling back slightly to make this more of a Deschanel solo album than its predecessor, but with equally impressive results. From the opening “Thieves,” She & Him fall quickly into the early ‘60s vibe that enlivened the group’s debut. This is spare, clean, wholesome pop music, and Deschanel’s voice emits a warmth and strength that is tempered by Ward’s occasional backing vocals on the trilling, piano-led “Don’t Look Back” and the lilting “Me and You.” Deschanel penned 11 of the 13 tracks; the other two are covers – “Gonna Get Along Without You Now” (Milton Kellem) and “Ridin’ in My Car” (Alan G. Anderson) – which mesh comfortably with the set of originals both in sound and theme.
Actors with musical aspirations are nothing new, but few have written and recorded with the sincerity and success of Zooey Deschanel. She & Him’s Volume Two doesn’t stray far from it predecessor, but further confirms this duo as a legitimate band with expansive talent. In the dreamy, closing “If You Can’t Sleep,” Deschanel sings, “Shut your eyes, there are bluer skies, For you’re embraced in my heart.” The feeling is mutual; whether the first spin or the 400th, Volume Two is a straight shot to the heart.
Volume Two is out now on Merge Records.