Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, a.k.a. She and Him have announced their second single from their forthcoming covers album Classics due for release this December. Following on from their rendition of Frank Sinatra’s Time After Time, the duo have tackled Dusty Springfield’s Stay Awhile which first appeared on her debut U.S. album more than fifty years ago in 1964. She and Him have managed to successfully bring a bright and bubbly air to the song whilst still maintaining the charm of the era in which it was written, which is no mean feat for any artist.
Those who know Zooey Deschanel as the sickly sweet and annoyingly cute actress, will be surprised to hear the deep, rich tones of Zooey Deschanel the singer and her un-quavering vibrato suits the style of the song beautifully. Covering a range of emotions including the yearning for someone dear, the happiness felt in their presence and the heartache of watching them leave, Deschanel’s voice does justice to Dusty Springfield’s rendition of the 1960’s ballad. The most charming parts of this song aren’t the lyrics themselves but all the little moments in between phrases which are sprinkled with colourful and fleeting vocal ties and instrumental fills by M. Ward and the band.
It’s a really nice take on a classic tune but with such smokey vocals and rich, atmospheric guitars the production quality doesn’t quite capture the sense of intimacy that She and Him appear to be going for. Too much reverb, not enough bass and unsuited mixing techniques mean that some of the wonderfully decorative elements on alto flute, chimes and baritone saxophone for example blend together without being given a chance to add texture and really shine. Recording a track live, as they have done on Stay Awhile is one thing, but capturing the warm, breezy and shimmering feels of a romantic summer escape is something else entirely and sadly, they haven’t quite got it here. All in all, a good effort and nice to listen to but could be better with a little more attention to detail.