She & Him, ‘Classics’ (Columbia)
She & Him is Portland singer-guitarist M. Ward and actress/singer-songwriter Zooey Deschanel. “Classics,” which refers to Tin Pan Alley hits of yore, is anything but.
Cloying, wildly overproduced (reverb, strings, choruses), and tone deaf to tempo, the songs mainly feature the ruby-lipped, girl-next-door vocals of Deschanel, who uses more vibrato than anyone since Edith Piaf, though sandy-voiced Ward occasionally chimes in. Deschanel nods to Dusty Springfield (but sounds more like Ruby Nash) on “Oh No Not My Baby” and the pair dares to reprise Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald on “Would You Like To Take A Walk.”
Actually, no. But could we at least slow down to a trot on “Teach Me Tonight” and take the roller rink organ out of “Time After Time”?
To be fair, Deschanel seems in her element on Burt Bacharach’s “This Girl’s in Love With You” and finds a solid, if not particularly enchanting place from which to deliver the Righteous Brothers’ anguished hit, “Unchained Melody.”
But do yourself a favor. Pick up “A Very She & Him Christmas.” And skip this one.
Other new releases
AC/DC, “Rock or Bust” (Columbia)
Mary J. Blige, “The London Sessions” (Capitol)
Leonard Cohen, “Live in Dublin” (3 CDs, 1 DVD, Legacy)