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She & Him: Volume Two

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She & Him

Volume Two

Merge Records

I guess what I find most enjoyable (and yes, I've seen the commercial promoting the "fabric of our lives") about She & Him is how refreshing the duo's sound is in an age of tiresome indie-kids trying to crank out the already-been-done jams of Pavement. Young movers and shakers will still label what She & Him do as indie-folk/pop, but this nostalgic project is more aimed at resurfacing early AM radio than using it as a building block for something trendy. Volume Two (not shockingly, the follow up to 2008's Volume One) is a collection of 13 songs that convincingly show that actress/songwriter Zooey Deschanel's (She) voice is full, confident and nearly as bold as country giants Loretta or Emmylou. The producing and impeccable arranging of M. Ward's (Him) gives nearly every song the chance to lift off, closing the gap between the soulful sounds of Motown and the twang of Nashville.

Volume Two is, in essence, the same album as Volume One, but the heartache that graces this album comes with a bigger smile. Deschanel writes charming songs that play to her vocal strengths and Ward proves more than qualified to build songs with gorgeous guitars, call and responses, handclaps, thick orchestration (with chimes!), and background woo-hoo's. The first several songs are straight sugar, but incredibly fun and deserving to be added to all those summer mix tapes. Volume Two ends with "If You Can't Sleep," an a cappella number that has me excited to throw on cotton and pick up tickets to see She & Him this May with Band of Horses at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

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