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Review: “A Very She & Him Christmas”

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Courtesy of Merge Records

It’s fitting that after debuting her singing chops to the mainstream consciousness in “Elf,” Zooey Deschanel is finally getting her chance to take a stab at a Christmas album with “A Very She & Him Christmas.”

M. Ward, the Portland folkie who comprises the Him in She & Him, sings much more on this record than past ones, which is a welcome change. But for the most part, it’s still very much the Zooey Deschanel show (kind of like that sitcom she’s got going on Fox). The duo offers their adorable take on classics like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride.” Their “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is utterly charming, as is “Little Saint Nick.” The melancholy “Blue Christmas” provides a tender showcase for Deschanel’s simple, winsome vocals. “Silver Bells” falters on the dull and drab side of things, but one dud out of a dozen songs is nothing to poo-poo about.

Naturally, they would be remiss not to include “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the song Deschanel first crooned in “Elf.” Here, they speed up the tune a bit and offer a fun gender switch-up, with Deschanel tackling Dean Martin’s part as she tries to coax Ward out of his fruitless attempts to leave. For authenticity’s sake, Deschanel’s voice is even double-tracked as it is in the original.

The She & Him Christmas collection is exactly what you’d expect: a pleasing, nostalgic little record to complement your “Christmas with the Rat Pack” albums during the holiday season or satiate your Christmas craving when it kicks up mid-July. Christmas carol purists can stick with ol’ Dino and Frank, and for hipsters, Sufjan Stevens’ “Songs For Christmas” still takes the cake when it comes to moody, indie carols. As far as holiday records go, “A Very She & Him Christmas” is firmly planted somewhere in the middle–a safe, harmless compilation of ditties that can comfortably settle in your Christmas playlist somewhere between the Vince Guaraldi Trio and Josh Groban’s next seasonal album.