As Bing Crosby once put it, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” As December has finally arrived, get ready to put on your car radios and hear an abundance of Christmas jingles from years past that either put a smile on your face or cringe. Many bands and solo singers have tried to remake Christmas albums over the years, to varying degrees of success. My favorite was Bob Dylan’s, who is actually a Jew, Christmas In The Heart. With the bard’s raspy voice taking on classics, I couldn’t have been more amused and ready for the holidays. That was however, until I heard A Very She & Him Christmas by, you guessed it, She & Him, I changed my mind.
Formed in 2008 and having released Volume. 1 and Volume. 2, actress-come-singer Zooey Deschanel and troubadour extraordinaire M. Ward having been carving out a nice indie following. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised to see that they’d take on a topic as hokey holiday tunes, since it seemed a bit un-indie like for them to do so. Thankfully the result was excellent. They weren’t trying to reinvent the songs, which could (not saying would, just merely could) have been disastrous and/or annoying, but they put their own minimal spin on the tunes, which made for a delightful listen.
Singing holiday tunes shouldn’t be surprising for the talented Deschanel. If you’ve seen Elf, then you know what she’s capable of doing when in holiday mode. Tunes like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” are typical She & Him songs, containing an acoustic guitar, a splash of whistling and giddy banter back-and-forth between the duo that gives the record a warm, sitting-by-the-fireplace-while-you-open-your-gifts vibe.
Though the selection of songs here is great (by Christmas album standards, so cut me some slack with the use of the word ‘great’), I still miss one of my favorite tunes, “Little Drummer Boy.” If any of you out there in Internet land have seen the Benihana Christmas episode of The Office, then you’ve seen Dwight and Angela duet on this catchy, quirky little tune. If Dylan handle this alone, I wish I could have heard Deschanel and Ward go to town on it. Would it have been as peppy? Could it have been simple? All simple questions that pop into a Jew's mind as he thinks about Christmas tunes.Yes, I have to admit, I contradict myself and at times I do wish that duo put their own spin on these classics, but what the hell; we’re all in the holiday spirit so why mess with a good thing? She & Him didn’t and played it conservatively, or in a football reference, on 3rd and Inches, they went with the quarterback sneak for the first down. There’s no harm in that, and if you are in the mood for a fresh take on Christmas songs and don’t want to hear your grandparents’ old Crosby, Sinatra or Presley records, while impressing your extended family by not busting out the Groban, Buble or, GASP, Bieber albums. Instead, you can present a very indie Christmas, which will bring smiles to your entire family as they see if they were naughty or nice in 2011.