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'Vol. 2' shows She & Him is on right track

"She & Him," made up of artists M.

"She & Him," made up of artists M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, release their second album. Credit: Autumn de Wilde

On "Vol. 2" (Merge), She & Him - also known as Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward - pick up where they left off on their memorable debut. Deschanel's timeless country croon and Ward's lush, guitar-dominated backdrops both feature a bit more confidence and swagger this time around. On "Thieves," Ward surrounds Deschanel with glorious Roy Orbison-inspired orchestrations, while holding back on the restrained girl-group homage "Over It Over Again." In return, Deschanel's pretty vocals can even make tough lines such as "Orpheus melted the heart of the Persephone, but I never had yours" work in the streamlined context.

SHE & HIM: "Vol. 2"

GRADE: B+

BOTTOM LINE: Gorgeous, brainy alt-country

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