photo by Christopher Nelson
Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? by She & Him from the 2008 album Volume One on Merge Records.
Even though it’s become trendy for Hollywood starlets to record their own albums (Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan bring a groan factor, while Scarlett Johansson’s forthcoming album brings the star factor), She (Zooey Deschanel) & Him (M. Ward) have created a collection of mostly original songs that stand apart from the pack. Deschanel, best known as an actress (Almost Famous & All The Real Girls), began her professional singing career during the filming of Elf (2003). Ward, the Portland-based musician, has released five full albums in less than a decade. Together, they make one of indie rock’s most attractive duos. No stranger to collaboration, M. Ward has worked with Neko Case, Conor Oberst, and Jenny Lewis on past projects. Zooey Deschenal has worked with others previously too, including Ben Lee and Jason Schwartzman (who also co-writes a song on this album), and is also a part of If All The Stars Were Pretty Babies, a cabaret band with fellow actress Samantha Shelton (Judging Amy and Shop Girl), in which she plays the ukulele. Since meeting in 2006, She & Him have recorded an entire album that was released earlier this year with Deschanel as the principal songwriter and Ward as musician and producer. They cite The Carter Family, Linda Ronstadt, and The Ronettes as musical influences, all of whom can definitely be heard in the album’s sparse arrangements and beautiful harmonies. The lyrics (as evidenced on this track) are simple, wholesome, and have just enough cheek and depth to be interesting. She & Him will be playing a few (mostly sold out) dates in April and May. Check their Myspace page for more information. If they’re not going to be in your town, you’ll be able to watch them late night... that is, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien on Tuesday, April 22, and on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Monday, April 28. Consult your local listings.
You can view more of Christopher Nelson’s photos of the KEXP in-studio with Ward and Deschanel from June 29, 2006, here.