Posts Tagged ‘She and Him’

M. Ward is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who rose to prominence in the Portland, Oregon music scene.

2019 release from the acclaimed singer/songwriter, his first studio album since 2016’s More Rain. “What A Wonderful Industry” takes on a subtler shade of music industry beef, writing about the heroes and villains he’s encountered over 20 years.

M. Ward: “This album is a reminder to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and don’t let the ones that just need an extra couple hours of therapy bring you down.” M. Ward’s solo work is a mixture of folk and blues-inspired Americana analog recordings; he has released nine albums since 1999, primarily through independent label Merge Records. In addition to his solo work, he is a member of pop duo She & Him and folk-rock supergroup Monsters of Folk, and also participates in recording, producing, and playing with multiple other artists.

Over the last decade Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums, as well as six LPs with Zooey Deschanel in the duo She and Him. Ward is also a member of the group Monsters of Folk alongside My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis, as well as a producer on albums for
Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, and Carlos Forster.

Via Ward: “This is a record inspired by people in the industry I have known – heroes and villains in equal measure. There’s some beautiful moments when you travel for a living, and I’m grateful for being part of an industry that’s taken me around the world so many times – but you quickly learn there’s a perfectly imperfect balance of cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals in the zoo. This record visits the most memorable characters. There’s a lot of very inspirational people I’ve had the pleasure to work with but there are also a few I wish I’d never met. It all tragically ends with an imaginary Griffin Mill-
inspired murder ballad. This album is a reminder to keep your friends close, your enemies closer and don’t let the ones that just need an extra couple hours of therapy bring you down. Anyway I hope you like it. All names have been changed to protect the innocent”.

She & Him just released an entire album of covers, but they’re not finished re-recording classic songs. The duo’s version of the Beach Boys’ timeless “God Only Knows” appeared on Zooey Deschanel’s show “The New Girl” earlier this week and is online today. Incidentally, the BBC recently sponsored an all-star cover of the same song.

She & Him‘s new album, “Classics”, features Deschanel and Ward’s recordings of 13 covers, including Dusty Springfield’s “Stay Awhile” and standards like “Time After Time” and “Teach Me Tonight” (both recorded at one point by Frank Sinatra) and “Would You Like to Take a Walk” (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong). The pair put together a whimsical “Guide to “Standards” video, which includes snippets of songs on the album.

This is another She & Him, track taken from the album this was the first single from the duo of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, out now with a new album called “Classics.” They perform the album’s first single, “Stay Awhile”, on Saturday Sessions

These days, it seems that every band or artist puts out tracks before their new albums is released, and it’s easy to understand why an individual song purchase costs more than it would in relation to the album, or, if you get the tracks by pre-ordering, you’re locked in for the whole shebang. Most, however, will release a track or two in anticipation. That, apparently, is not She & Him‘s style. In the last few weeks, the easy-listening power-duo of Zooey Deschanel and M Ward” have already released four tracks (out of thirteen total) from their upcoming collection of standards,titled “Classics”, which comes out on December 2nd.

The duo’s take on Carole King”s “Oh No Not My Baby” is more closely to King’s vocals and Maxine Brown’s backing instrumentation, rather than, say, the versions popularized by Cher and Rod Stewart. Faithful without feeling uninspired, “Oh No Not My Baby” falls firmly within the canon of beautifully done recordings of Carole King’s expansive catalog.

and their cover of “Stars Fell on Alabama.” It’s a hard one to attribute, having been written in 1934 and covered by over 100 artists, but the track follows a delightfully early-’50s path, reminiscent of both Patti Page’s recording and the duet between Ella Fitzgerald” and Louis Armstrong”. Deschanel wisely avoids mimicking Fitzgerald or Page while still managing to bring elements of both of their styles into her own vocals. Ward’s gruffness offers up a good stand-in for Satchmo’s own indescribable voice, but takes much more of a back seat to Deschanel’s singing than Armstrong did to Fitzgerald’s. The track forgoes the instrumentals that introduce the older recordings, and it’s sped up by comparison, but nothing gets lost in translation. It’s a quick one, weighing in at under two and a half minutes, but there’s a beauty in its brevity,

Frank Sinatra “Time After Time, which also gives us a vocal duet between M.Ward and Deschanel, the two show us perhaps what makes their approaches to all of these songs so successful they take the later standards of the ’60s and bring a crooner-ish velvet to them, while taking the more “classic” standards of the ’30s and ’40s and applying a mid-century lounge aesthetic. The opening, just a tapping of a high hat and thrumming bass, feels more like we’re about to be launched into Peggy Lee singing “Fever,” and it’s a vibe that lasts all through the song and balances against the still Sinatra-esque vocals fantastically.

Their cover of Dusty Springfield’s “Stay Awhile,” which was the first track put out from “Classics”, takes a ’60s pop ditty and slows it down while retaining all the things that make the subgenre so charming – the ooh’s in the backing vocals, the claps, the lilting chorus.
All told, while the vintage-striving concept of the album might betray the duo’s reputation for twee indie-pop, the songs themselves are expertly and unselfconsciously done. Standards albums are a dime a dozen, and Ward and Deschanel go far above and beyond the generic adaptivity that most of them are plagued by.

With a new album and a new label deal signing with a major Columbia Records it was announced that She & Him had left independent label Merge Records, with their fifth studio album, titled “Classics” scheduled to be released 2nd December 2014 , Zooey Deschanel and M Ward were photographed with Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame in the studio recording his forthcoming album which features Zooey Deschanel as a guest vocalist.