Movie actress Zooey Deschanel has expanded her ambitions recently, moving from the big screen to the indie-rock stage. With co-founder M. Ward, she’s half of the duo She and Him. Deschanel, who sings and plays keyboards, joins Fresh Air to discuss her music and her band’s new album, Volume One — described recently in Time Out New York as “a disarming set of simple pop songs drawn from a variety of ’60s and ’70s styles, a perfectly charming record for the onset of spring.” Deschanel, who’s dabbled in jazz cabaret and sung on the occasional film soundtrack, has starred in such movies as Elf and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. She made her screen debut in 1999’s Mumford, and recently provided the voice of Lani Aliikai in the animated film Surf’s Up. Deschanel met Ward, a gifted singer-songwriter widely known as a solo artist, while recording a duet for the soundtrack to the 2007 film The Go-Getter. In their performances as She and Him, the two try to use as few machines as possible. The duo recently performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.
MERGE: This is the musical debut from Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Immediately struck by one another’s talents and finding an instant rapport, Zooey let slip that she wrote her own songs which she recorded alone at home on her computer. Somewhat shy about anyone hearing these musical morsels she eventually sent the demos to Matt who was instantly impressed. They soon reconvened at his Portland studio to begin work. Embracing the warm sound of early analog recordings, Volume One is more than just a showcase for Zooey’s rich and endearing voice; it’s a distinctive and endlessly charming album. The songs themselves give a respectful nod to the likes of Dusty Springfield, Linda Ronstadt and The Zombies while Matt’s production gives them just the right amount of golden era sheen. Whether Zooey’s channeling Ronnie Spector as on “I Was Made For You” or joining Matt in turning The Beatles “I Should Have Known Better” into a seductive hula guitar duet, the results are always captivating. MORE