04/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Zooey Deschanel Goes From Acting To Singing On New Record

On screen the actress Zooey Deschanel is often cast as the quirky naïf or the ironic wit, the kind of character too flustered or too eye-rollingly impatient to multitask. But in real life Ms. Deschanel is a natural hyphenate, an actress-musician-crafty girl.

Now she is showcasing her harmony-loving side in a new band, She & Him, with the singer-songwriter-guitarist M. Ward. Their debut album, "Volume One," is a collection of vintage-sounding country-tinged songs written mostly by Ms. Deschanel and produced by Mr. Ward. Released last month on the indie label Merge Records, it has received surprised acclaim from magazines and blogs alike. (The duo begin a brief tour with sold-out shows at the Highline Ballroom in New York next Monday and Tuesday.)

And unlike the work of other actors-cum-musicians -- Russell Crowe's various pub-rock acts for example -- the album doesn't come across as a vanity project; in person Ms. Deschanel is exactly as indie darling as her fans would hope.

Though she was raised and lives amid celebrity in Los Angeles and has appeared in both hugely popular films ("Elf," in which she briefly sang) and critical and cult favorites ("Almost Famous," "All the Real Girls"), it's easy to imagine her puttering around a cozily decorated Williamsburg loft. She takes home doggie bags, prefers tights to spray-tans and uses David Bowie's "Changes" as her ring tone. She knits and crochets and makes brownies and gingerbread because, she said, "I like the way people react when you bake, which is, like, just pure childlike joy."

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