I have an enormous and longstanding celebrity crush on actress Zooey Deschanel. I was a Deschanelophile way back when I saw her in Mumford, and then Almost Famous sealed the deal.

My wife and I even loved Elf, the dumb 2003 xmas comedy with Will Ferrell. Some of the cutest parts of that movie are when Deschanel breaks into song:

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Pretty good voice, huh?

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She & Him, Volume IWell, it turns out Deschanel’s more than a dabbler. Next month, she’s releasing an album as part of a duo with indie stalwart (and FMB veteran) M. Ward, under the name She & Him. Apparently the two met when they were thrown together to record a song for a movie soundtrack. Deschanel let slip that she wrote her own songs; M. Ward demanded to hear them; the rest is history. The album is called Volume One, so maybe we can expect more.

I know what you’re thinking. Actor turns to music; disaster ensues.

But to my surprise, the album is modest, authentic, and amazingly good. Deschanel is doing what artists like Ward and Jenny Lewis are trying to do: make music that’s timeless. There’s not a hint of modernity here, nothing you could put a date to. It’s analog and warm, mostly torch music along the lines of Patsy Cline, with a sprinkling of Dusty Springfield, a soupcon of country twang, and a touch of Motown. (M. Ward, to no one’s surprise, turns out to be a fantastic producer.)

Her voice won’t rattle your bones, and the range is fairly limited, but it’s incredibly endearing, and she knows how to use it. I suppose it’s possible my love for her is blinding deafening me, though. I’ll leave that judgment up to you.

This song is called “I Was Made for You” — it’s the Motowniest on the album. You can pre-order it here.

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