Nov 19, 2021
By Hayden Merrick
Zooey Deschanel—Gimbels’ resident elf and half of the pop duo She & Him—is fast overtaking Mariah Carey as the Christmas Queen of North America. (In the U.K., that role is reserved for the actual queen.) She & Him’s first Christmas album, A Very She & Him Christmas, gets a 10th anniversary reissue in time for the 2021 holiday season, if a little earlier than required. Still, it’s a good excuse to get started on New Girl’s Christmas episodes.
Wait, Zooey Deschanel has a Christmas album? Yes, and I assure you that once you accept that fact and start enjoying She & Him unironically, there’s a lot to like. Together with Portland singer/songwriter M. Ward, the pair relax through 12 covers of Yuletide classics, from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”—the questionable lyrics of which they assuage by having Deschanel take the male vocal part—to The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick,” closing the curtains with a hushed rendition of “The Christmas Song.”
The half hour passes with an unobtrusive dinner party ease, perfect conservation filler for when you invite over the couple next door for mulled cider and mince pies. Deschanel’s voice is warm and merry, and perhaps underrated because of her kooky doe-eyed persona. She would hold her own with many whose salient vocation is music, though. As for the instrumentals, they stay true to the originals but with creative spins, such as Ward’s bluesy guitar that leads “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” rather than conventional piano as in the version popularized by Frank Sinatra.
The album’s high point is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” on which Deschanel’s voice resonates with just the right amount of melancholy and a pair of acoustic guitars frolic atop the percussive chords beneath. “Christmas Wish” passes like a serendipitous romcom meet cute, as the duo’s voices overlap and converse with romantic contentment.
This deluxe reissue comes pressed on a limited-edition silver tinsel vinyl, with an accompanying 7-inch containing two new tracks: Madonna’s “Holiday” and Wham!’s “Last Christmas.” Although I can’t help but crave some original Christmas compositions as Sufjan Stevens and Phoebe Bridgers have gifted in recent years, She & Him does a respectable job of putting their stamp on these songs. At least a few of the tracks deserve to make your non-mainstream Xmas Spotify playlist this December. (www.sheandhim.com)
Author rating: 6.5/10
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