Great Expectations 2010: She & Him

Music Features She & Him
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Charming duo plots Volume Two

“Zooey and I both get most of our inspiration from listening to older records,” singer/guitarist M. Ward says of himself and bandmate Zooey Deschanel, whose 2008 debut, Volume One, remains the greatest collaboration of all time between a Portland, Ore., acoustic virtuoso and an indie-film-sweetheart-turned-songstress

. Ward assures us that their follow-up, due in spring, will mine the same country, folk and AM-gold touchstones as its predecessor—not like they had a choice, he says. “We’re not the most up-to-date people.”

There are some new twists, though. “The songs are more of a snapshot of a period of time than Volume One was,” says Deschanel, who mined eight years of original material for the debut, but wrote the new album (which she calls “a collection of fables”) during its year-and-a-half-long production process. Recording happened in Portland and L.A., and was protracted thanks to Deschanel’s film work and Ward’s half-million other musical projects. “Our lives are not incredibly unbusy,” he says. “This definitely required some scheduling.”

Production took a while, too, because they wanted everything just so. “It shows a lot more dimensions to Zooey’s writing, and on the production side I definitely experimented with different ideas that I hadn’t tried before,” Ward says, noting that the bright shades of the debut are brighter here, the darks darker—“like a great photograph.”

“Matt has really outdone himself with the production,” says Deschanel, who arranged the album’s backing vocals, including an appearance by Nebraska indie-poppers Tilly and the Wall (but nothing from Deschanel’s new husband, Ben Gibbard—although “we all think he’s a great singer,” Ward notes. “Obviously.”)

Ward says “there’s nothing really difficult about making music with Zooey” and Deschanel affirms it’s “always a pleasure” to work with him, too. The new record’s name happened just as easily. “It was a hopeful title, Volume One,” Ward says. “I’m just excited for people to hear Volume Two.”