She & Him in Boston

Matthew Shelter on July 17, 2013

She & Him
Bank of America Pavilion
Boston, Mass.
July 10

She & Him recently completed an 18-date U.S. tour that could have been labeled “Songs for a Summer Evening.” The group, an ongoing collaboration between singer-songwriter M. Ward and actress-singer-New Girl star Zooey Deschanel, features the kind of pop tunes that go down especially well when the nights are warm and the venues open-air.

There’s a tendency to want to dismiss the duo as something of a gimmick, a quirky little sideline for a quirky little actress who feels like slumming as a rock star. But that would be unfair. Deschanel is a truly talented singer in her own right, with a musical background that predates her acting career. And her partnership with M. Ward has lasted more than five years now, putting the lie to the idea that this was just a one-off diversion.

On tour, Ward and Deschanel are augmented by a talented group of musicians and backup singers. At a stop in Boston on their second-to-last night on the road, the group played a 90-minute set featuring a good two dozen songs, including six from their most recent release, She & Him Volume 3.

Their tunes range from upbeat pop numbers like show opener “I Was Made for You” and “Together,” to torchy ballads on which Deschanel’s voice sounds like it’s being channeled from a 1940s dance hall, such as “Never Wanted Your Love.” Both on album and in concert, She & Him like to cover a wide range of other artists. At least a third of the songs they played in Boston were covers, including takes on The Miracles ( “You Really Got a Hold on Me” ), Frank Sinatra ( “Stars Fell on Alabama” ), NRBQ (Ridin’ In My Car), Sonny West ( “Rave On!” ) and Blondie ( “Sunday Girl” ).

One doesn’t go to a She & Him show expecting a life-changing rock-and-roll event. One goes to hear a set of good pop songs played by talented musicians and singers, and in that frame of mind, it would be hard not to leave their show satisfied.