Simplicity is the New Black (Or Should Be)

I’ve always loved Ricky Nelson’s version, but this one is simple yet brilliant. Makes me melt.

I don’t think any words can do justice to how I feel about She & Him and the impressions their sound evokes, but I’ll try. Ethereal, unassuming, heartbreak yet hopeful, enchanting, at times bubbly, and nostalgic. (Ah, yes, of course.) In 2008, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward brought a little class and a cozy haven to the music industry with the release of Volume One, their debut album. And took much too long to grace us with another beautiful album, releasing Volume Two in March 2010. I like to describe their sound as a little 60s pop, a little folksy, and a little old country. And they may not be everyone’s cup of tea (most people I know have never heard of them, even with my incessant chatter and recommendation of them), but in an era where music is more about looks and digitally created voices, they are a breath of fresh air. And you can tell they have fun with their videos. They’re a bit quirky and bizarre at times, but playful as well, and they never seem to take themselves too seriously. Take their newest video, Don’t Look Back. I love the colors, stylized 60s kitsch, and “futuristic” technology. It’s silly, and makes me smile.

M. Ward sets the backdrop with elaborate and fluid melodies and chords, making a perfect pairing with Zooey Deschanel’s voice (by the way, she has THE BEST of all the cotton commercials). She may not have the traditionally talented voice, but it is pure and genuine. Each note she sings comes straight from her heart. In an age of studio adjusted and auto-tuned voices and over singing and over doing everything, she is the evidence of less is more. The beautiful simplicity speaks for itself. Some of their songs are slower and recall heartbreak or loneliness, and then they hit us with a tune that makes you want to hop in the car for a cruise with the top down. I defy you to listen to one of their more upbeat songs and not find yourself with an extra bounce in your step.

I’m sure we all have albums or songs we can listen to on repeat, for extended amounts of time. She & Him is the ultimate “put on repeat” play list for me. I never tire of hearing these songs, nor is there one song that I don’t like. I will add, that while I like all their songs, I do prefer their originals to the covers they’ve done. However, when they take on someone’s song, they always make it their own. One of my favorite covers is Skeeter Davis’s “Gonna Get Along Without You”. (Original sung by Teresa Brewer in 1952, and since covered by many). Skeeter’s version is one of those animated, sassy 60s girl group type songs. She & Him added their unique sound and tweaked it slightly. I still prefer Skeeter’s version, but it almost seems like a different song when I hear She & Him’s. I like that they can make a much covered song feel new and different. I also really love their stripped down and somewhat haunting take on Lotta Love by Neil Young.

Many of the songs and lyrics I can relate to and make me feel as if they came straight out of my brain. Some are painful, some are sappy, some are contemplative, but all are honest.

Volume One

I’m all out of luck but what else could I be? I know he’s yours and he’ll never belong to me again . . .I was never, no I was never, no I was never enough but I can try, I can try to toughen up . . .  ~ Change is Hard (Story of my life. . .)

What use am I as a heap on the floor? Heaving devotion but it’s just no good . . .Oh, what can you do with a sentimental heart? ~ Sentimental Heart (I’ve been asking myself this for years!)

‘Cause I have been waiting for a long long time for a boy like you, I won’t be waiting anymore ‘cause I know I was made for you. ~ I Was Made For You

My eyes are so bleary, I guess I’m young but I feel so weary I try to express it, but I think it’s all a bore, it’s at the heart of me a very part of me. ~ Black Hole

So don’t try to woo me, don’t try to fool me, oh, I know all of your tricks, it’s the possibility of staying in my corner. ~ Take It Back

Why do you let me stay here? All by myself, why don’t you come and play here? I’m just sitting on the shelf ~ Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? (Anyone? Seriously, I’m just sitting on the shelf. . .)

Volume Two

When it comes down to this I’m neither sorry, nor cross, nor I’m fit and I’m running away . . .It makes me feel better. ~  Brand New Shoes

I like to mean what I say, but it don’t always come through, ’cause if I say it all again again again it doesn’t make it more true . . .  ~ Lingering Still

If it’s broke then kick it, dust yourself off, find a quiet place and have a good laugh . . . ~  Sing (A good philosophy for life.)

I want to be where your heart is home . . . ~ Home

All lyrics by Zooey Deschanel

*sigh* Just the kind of drippy sentiments I like to bask in. You don’t have to love them as much as I do, but at least give them a listen.

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