Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mandy Moore has an alter-ego?!

Review: Moore returns with folksy `Amanda Leigh'

By SOLVEJ SCHOU – 2 days ago 

Mandy Moore, "Amanda Leigh" (Storefront)

Sure, Mandy Moore has grown up. She's 25, married to singer-songwriter Ryan Adams and pushing past the teen-pop territory of her younger days, as she did on 2007's decidedly adult "Wild Hope."

But while her new album, "Amanda Leigh," sparkles in places, it also shows where Moore needs to grow. The record's tunes about love and soul-searching, co-written by Moore and Mike Viola, leader of the Candy Butchers, with help from Inara George of the Bird and the Bee, range from country-tinged folk to straight-up alt-country to songs so steeped in harpsichord and harmony, they verge on musical theater.

The songs are recorded with crisp, precise instrumentation, but the lyrics tend to rhyme too much. "I could handle your tortured heart/ Even piece it together whenever you ripped it apart," she sings on "Love to Love Me Back."

"I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week," the album's main single, is saccharine mixed with saltiness. The chorus of the up-tempo and cheesy blowoff to a guy is catchy, but silly.

At her best, Moore shows that her sweetly tinged voice can be both throaty and twangy. Songs such as "Bug" have a pleasant Joni Mitchell vibe, all clear-eyed '70s folk.

Moore, though, could use some pointers from her hubby Adams, whose music skillfully straddles country, rock and pop without trying too hard.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Everblue," the album's best song, and co-written by Lori McKenna, has the kind of slow-paced groove that rolls along beautifully, letting Moore sing in a sultry croon.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



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