A Very She & Him Christmas
- By Kathleen Moore -
- Dec 16, 2011
It seems apt that I am writing this on perhaps the greyest and most dispiriting Monday in the history of Novembers. Christmas tunes, no matter how glittery and well, scary, (I’m looking at you here Slade), are designed to cheer the heart. To add some shine to your tinsel crown and provide a hummable backdrop to the creation of “festive” cocktails and monopoly-based arguments. In short, to while away those bitter and frozen months. And to cut a long introduction short, 'A Very She and Him Christmas' does just that, with added jingle.
Opening track, ‘Christmas Waltz,’ does what it says on the candy-striped tin. Schmaltzy lyrics in Zooey Deschanel’s most recognisable ethereal tone float atop an acoustic guitar waltz. It’s the kind of sweet and inoffensive festive musak that would fare well in the background of a tv advert featuring a really expensive hot-water bottle cover.
But delve further into the album and there are delicious tidings of great joy that will de-grinch any yuletide stick-in-the-muds.
Track three is the duo’s take on Judy Garland favourite, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. An exquisitely lilting guitar intro fades into to Deschanel’s darkly soulful whisperings to create a stripped back and beautiful track that lets you fully take on the lyrics and feel all sentimental, in the best possible way. Do not listen to this while writing Christmas cards, you’ll write something over-emotional and regret it.
‘I’ll be Home For Christmas’ was once covered by The Carpenters and this duo have also made it their own. They even managed to add jingle bells without it seeming too vomity. Deschanel’s vocals sound to have been sung with a smile and if your head is not set a-bobbing by M.Ward’s guitar hiccups then you have something wrong with your neck.
Set smack bang in the middle of the album, 'Sleigh Ride' is two minutes and forty-four seconds of pure and unadulterated joy. It will reawaken the bit of you that still secretly believes in santa. Ward and Deschane harmonise over skitteringly sparse drum-beats and delicately thrummed guitars. It’s so energetic that you can pretty much hear prancer and dancer, um, prancing and dancing.
‘Silver Bells’ is so delicately produced it feels like a lullaby, Deschanel’s carefully enunciated lyrics cut through the fragile acoustic guitar to soothe and cradle your ears. Elsewhere in the album, Deschanel takes on the King with Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas’ and her quasi-baritone croonings somehow work rather well as alongside the sparse, crackly guitars they give a sense of echoing loneliness.
The album ends with a take on Nat King Cole’s classic, ‘Christmas Song.’ It is done in a traditional style, rippling guitar chords perfectly framing soulfully sung lyrics. There is beauty in simplicity here and it may well make you want to dress like Katherine Hepburn and smile wistfully out of the window at snowflakes.
This album has not been created with its tongue in its cheek, it is not an ironic post-post modern poke at Christmas. It is an unabashed and innocent celebration of the festive season, and is all the more wonderful for it.
If you have had enough of listening to men in inappropriate baco-foil jumpsuits or seeing Bing Crosby looking uncomfortable then buy this album. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a sherry and gin snowball to make.
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