Wednesday night, I caught indie duet She & Him, the collaboration between actress Zooey Deschanel and Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter M. Ward, at the Skirball theater at NYU. It was their second and final show in New York on a brief bi-coastal tour—now, they’re off to L.A. for two more sold-out dates.
Their new album, Volume One, features songs written by Deschanel and produced by Ward, along with Beatles and Smokey Robinson covers. At Wednesday’s show, they also performed Maxine Brown’s “Oh No Not My Baby”—a perfect fit for Deschanel’s sound. Vocally right at home with the soulful, imperfect female country and blues voices of the 1940s and 50s, Deschanel’s influences also include other actors/musicians like Doris Day, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, she told Women’s Wear Daily.
The project has served as a chance for Deschanel, who has much less creative control as an actress than as an indie chanteuse, to wear her heart on her sleeve and for Ward, to play the supporting role to someone he clearly adores. The music is precious, and in the role of modest, innocent, girlish crooner, Zooey Deschanel is perfectly cast.