Avoiding the use of their already known names, actress-singer Zooey Deschanel puts her songs in the hands of guitarist M. Ward, who in turn gives them booming, echoey treatments that recall a glorious era in American pop. This is no lo-fi, campfire experiment that the quaint title suggests.
With minimal accompaniment, Deschanel and Ward combine elements found in Brill Building and ’70s Laurel Canyon songwriting with production values from the sessions Phil Spector held in Hollywood and Owen Bradley had in Nashville.
The songs themselves have their moments, though few truly stand out. It’s the production that is memorable: the big folk guitar strums on “This is Not a Test”;’ a choir seemingly down the hall from the lead singer on the country weeper “Change is Hard”; the girl group fantasy of “I was Made for You.” A slowed down version of the Beatles “I Should Have Known Better” receives a Hawaiian cowboy treatment that improves as it goes along; Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold On Me” is the album’s one flat tune.