I never would’ve thought that two of my favourite albums this year would be cover albums by duets, but both Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett and She & Him managed it. While Cheek To Cheek, was jazz standards, Classics is American standards, and even though the former stands out more, the latter is a much more intimate package.
The album opens on what is likely its best track, “Stars Fell On Alabama,” a quiet little song that is beautiful in every note. From Deschanel’s creamy vocals to Ward’s goosebump inducing rasp the song is amazing and the strings push it right over the top. “It’s Not For Me To Say” lets the strings drive a little more with piano sprinkling some jazz into the mix. The icing is the light trumpet solo that gives it a great old school tinge that makes it even better.
“Stay Awhile” is a more upbeat companion to the opening tracks and lets Deschannel’s vocals take lead, while Ward’s always beautiful guitars cover every vocal break as well as a sax solo. “Time After Time” (not the Cyndi Lauper song) is a jazzier track that bounces on its bass line and let’s Ward and Deschannel play call and response with elegance. Their harmonies are heartmelting, and the even more passionate trumpet solo here is great, as well as the light Spanish guitar.
“Teach Me Tonight” is a bouncy guitar and brass song that never really gets catchy but feels like the perfect slow dance song, aching back to old Sam Cooke records. “Would You Like To Take A Walk” slows things down to almost halting speeds, and although it feels awfully corny given its old lyrics the whistles, guitars, strings and always pleasing vocals by Ward save it. “We’ll Meet Again” is the less sad sounding cover of the Vera Lynn classic, and while it’s less emotive its distant feel, sad trumpet and group vocals seem to be going for a deeper, more subtle sadness.