This month, World Cafe is offering 20 free downloads of performances recorded at WXPN. Below, download “I Could Have Been Your Girl” by She & Him. The 20 Free World Cafe Downloads to Get You Through February compilation is only available until tomorrow, February 28th at Midnight. Additional songs on the collection include performances from Dr. Dog, Jack John, Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Parquet Courts, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, and others. Download the full collection here.
On the heels of the 20th anniversary of the first release, Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams comes Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven on Vanguard Records. The last edition in the series since was Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, a collection dedicated to Vic Chestnutt, in 1996. SWIII: Pennies from Heaven features 13 new recordings of songs by an all-star cast that includes Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Shelby Lynne, Victoria Williams, She & Him, Eleni Mandell, Ron Sexsmith, k.d. lang, Rickie Lee Jones, Joseph Arthur and more. The cover art is by pop art legend Peter Max.
Sweet Relief is a non-profit charity that maintains a fund that professional musicians can draw from when in need of medical care or financial needs. It started after musician and singer Victoria Williams was diagnosed with MS in 1993 and had no way to pay for her medical expenses. Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven is an excellent collection of covers. Some of the highlights include Ron Sexsmith’s gorgeous take on the title song, Joseph Arthur’s reading of “If I Needed You,” Ben Harper’s cover of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” and “Don’t Let Us Be Sick” by Jackson Browne. Working on the project, Brown said:
“Musicians are always among the first to give their energy and talent to help other people in times of emergency, though they are very often without health insurance themselves, and need our support when they fall prey to illness and hardship. Sweet Relief has been helping musicians for years, and has helped some whom I am very much indebted to for enriching my life. I am very happy to take part in this CD project, and for the chance to support Sweet Relief’s very soulful work.”
Stream Sweet Relief III in its entirety and watch a couple videos from the recording sessions below.
Purchase Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven here.
American indie duo She & Him made a stop at Philadelphia’s Mann Center for the Performing Arts as a part of their tour supporting their 4th studio album, Volume 3, released this past May. The unlikely duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward was accompanied by a full live band, and performed not only songs from their 3 volumes of original music, but covers of a variety of artists including Frank Sinatra, Sonny West and Chuck Berry, as well as some of M. Ward’s own music. The fusion of Deschanel’s rich vocals and Ward’s airy guitar embellishments come together rather nicely onstage, possibly even more so than on their recordings.
Notably off their new record, fans enjoyed tracks such as “I’ve Got Your Number, Son”, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” (Mel Carter cover), “Never Wanted Your Love” and “I Could’ve Been Your Girl”. These more recognizable tunes (“This is Not a Test” included) certainly made for the show’s highlights, but the group struggled to sound quite as poised on their more obscure songs. This, in large part, explained the seeming trend of fans leaving not midway into their performance, diminishing an already small crowd.
Zooey Deschanel’s songwriting combines well with a voice that is, at times, truly excellent, and M. Ward’s knack for arranging and producing a song. It makes for an interesting pitch, but was ultimately a tough sell. The ability to captivate an audience was certainly there, yet fleeting, begging the question of whether or not She & Him can consistently deliver the results one would expect given their collective talent.
Joining She & Him was Scottish indie pop band, Camera Obscura who, in my book, stole the show. Not only was their mix better, but their sound was altogether tighter and more self-assured. Coincidentally, Camera Obscura has been produced by fellow Glaswegian Stuart Murdoch, a founding member of Belle & Sebastian, who you can catch performing at the Skyline Stage at The Mann this evening.
We’ve got some good picks for you today, starting with retro-pop duo She & Him. Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward just released their fourth LP Volume 3 back in May and it’s just as sweet and sunny as ever. Just one listen and you’ll be hooked on their upbeat and catchy sound. Don’t believe me? Check out their latest single, “Never Wanted Your Love” below and catch them tonight at The Mann Center with Camera Obscura.
Happy Record Release day to Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, AKA She & Him. Today they release Volume 3 of their duets on Merge Records. They’ll be playing The Mann Center on Tuesday, July 9th with Camera Obscura opening the show. Go here for tickets to the show. Below, download “Never Wanted Your Love.”
Set for official release on May 14th, She & Him‘s Volume 3 is streaming on NPR Music’s First Listen this week. It’s been three years since Zooey Deschanel and M Ward’s last offering, though that’s no surprise given Deschanel’s other projects. Though Ward contributes occasional vocals on the album, his primary role is as the arranger and, as NPR points out, the songs are clearly Deschanel’s:
Playful, soft, sunnily melancholy and springlike, its songs once again subsist on the strength of their own agreeability. Timelessness has long been key to She & Him’s charm, and indeed, Volume 3 seems to be floating through AM speakers at all times. But the album also demonstrates that there’s more to Deschanel than her doe-eyed New Girl persona would suggest: She & Him is led by a confident singer-songwriter who, on records and elsewhere, knows exactly what she’s doing.