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Baby, It’s Cool Outside for She & Him

A very She & Him Christmas

A recent addition to the parade of annual holiday programming (A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life A Christmas Story and stop-motion classics like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer) is 2003’s Elf. The movie stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, an orphaned Santa’s helper who leaves the North Pole to find his father in New York City.

Buddy’s love interest is Zooey Deschanel, playing a seasonal department store employee who’s afraid to sing in public. She eventually she gets over her fear and leads a Central Park group sing-along that saves the day. Something to do with Christmas spirit powering the flagging Clausometer on St. Nick’s souped-up sleigh. My daughters watch it pretty much every other night this time of year, so I’m fast getting up to speed on the subtleties in the plot.

Deschanel is also one half of the indie-pop outfit She & Him, and thus makes another contribution to the season with the new CD A Very She & Him Christmas. “She” is joined on the project by M. Ward, the “Him” on two earlier collaborative albums. Deschanel, of course, is the star of a number of films, as well as the popular television sitcom New Girl, but the group is clearly not a passing fancy for the actress, who’s been involved in a number of musical projects through the years. Ward is a Portland-based singer-songwriter who’s been chalking up glowing reviews since the late ‘90s.

With A Very She & Him Christmas, they put an understated ‘60s-pop spin on Yuletide standards (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Silver Bells”) and toss in some nifty items from the rock ‘n’ roll canon (particularly welcome is the infrequently recorded NRBQ charmer “Christmas Wish”).

Of particular note is a rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which Deschanel sings in tandem with Will Farrell in Elf. Here’s it’s given a gender switch, with the jittery Ward (“There’s bound to be talk tomorrow”) fending off a cheeky Deschanel (“Think of my life-long sorrow”).

Buddy would be so jealous!

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