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    She & Him, ‘Classics’

    “Classics” is not holiday-themed, but make no mistake: These songs are meant for snowy nights in front of a crackling fire. She & Him, the duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, cover a lot of ground here, rendering each song with warmth and radiance. Aside from an uneasy take on “Oh No, Not My Baby,” Deschanel exudes more confidence on lead vocals — that seismic vibrato at the end of “Stars Fell on Alabama” is a lovely new flourish. She often recalls Nancy Sinatra; both singers have a small range but compensate with charm and presence. Ward, who produced the album and sings lead on Charles Aznavour’s “She,” sprinkles dusky guitar lines and sublime backing vocals and orchestrations throughout. Deschanel offers a sly attack on Dusty Springfield’s “Stay Awhile” and shimmers on “This Girl’s in Love With You.” The biggest surprise is “Unchained Melody,” a shopworn staple (the “Hallelujah” of its day), transformed into a haunting elegy to devotion. The Chapin Sisters shadow Deschanel’s reverbed vocal for a truly mesmerizing rendition. (Out now)


    ESSENTIAL “Unchained Melody”