The Deal: M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel team up for their sophomore album, follow-up to Volume One.
The Good: Deschanel is one of the few actresses who truly have the musical chops to make the switch from the big screen to the music world. Most times, actresses and actors sound like they're going through the motions and producing, at best, mediocre, generic tunes. With Deschanel, her vocals have been used in films, but it's her collaborations with Ward that help to showcase her vocal talent – range, tone, emotion. She has one of those timeless, retro-tinged voices that's soothing while conveying sadness or evokes enough pep to make you smile. Ward's musical arrangements are layered enough to provide some depth to the sound, but not too complex to be muddy. He offers string accompaniment at the right moments and strips it down to a guitar when the mood asks for it. The duo team up for rich harmonies, adding to the '50s vibe that runs through the album.
The Bad: With her acting career, and his solo efforts and work with Monsters of Folk, it's unsure how often this duo will be able to record and tour.
The Verdict: The 13 tracks clock in at just under 45 minutes and are, as the band's biography accurately states, the equivalent of a springtime joyride.