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Mandy Moore – ‘In Real Life’ review

The singer continues to forge her own path with a heartfelt record.

The reinvention of Mandy Moore has been something quite spectacular to witness. At age 15, Moore was launched as a pop star with the intention of her label to capitalise on the success of the likes of then rising stars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Her debut album ‘So Real’, released in 1999 was a moderate hit as was the lead single ‘Candy’. By the time Moore’s self-titled second album arrived in 2001, the singer had already started to dip her foot into acting with a role in ‘The Princess Diaries’. Since then Moore’s attention has increasingly turned to acting and she’s spoken openly about becoming disenchanted with music after having no creative control during her early career.

With plenty of acting roles under her belt – ‘A Walk to Remember’ (2002), ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (2010) and ‘Tangled’ (2010) to name a few – Moore landed the lead role of Rebecca Pearson in ‘This Is Us’ in 2016 and for six seasons she’s proven herself to be quite the incredible actress. Being on that show also enabled her to reconnect with her love of singing and in 2020 she released ‘Silver Landings’, her first studio album in 11 years. That album saw her move into a more mature sound, which she’d started doing on her ‘Wild Hope’ (2007) and ‘Amanda Leigh’ (2009) records, and she ditched the pop sound that made her famous.

Two years on from ‘Silver Landings’ and Moore is coming to the end of her time on ‘This Is Us’ as the show is just weeks away from ending its sixth and final series, and her eye is back on music with the release of seventh studio album ‘In Real Life’. In many ways a progression of the sound we heard on ‘Silver Landings’, ‘In Real Life’ sees Moore working once again with producer Mike Viola and collaborating with her husband, Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith. Ahead of the album’s release, Moore teased fans with the release of ‘Real Life’, ‘Little Dreams’ and ‘Four Moons’, three songs that showcase the mature Fleetwood Mac sound that the singer is making her own.

‘Real Life’ is a touching ode to Moore becoming a mother and gaining a new perspective on life, realising that she no longer lives for herself but for a child who is completely dependent on her. On the thumping beat-driven ‘Little Dreams’, Moore appreciates the small goals and wins in life shifting her focus from achieving the bigger things while on ‘Four Moons’ Moore sings over a lazy melody about the passing of time and the importance of taking in the memorable moments of being in a relationship.

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Unlike 2020’s ‘Silver Landings’, ‘In Real Life’ takes a few more risks. While that album was more about re-establishing Moore as an artist and fully taking control, this record builds on those foundations and finds her exerting more confidence. The poppier ‘Little Victories’ is one of the more uptempo moments with Moore having fun with her vocal delivery, ‘Heartlands’ is a piano-driven emotive moment that comes early on about being there for someone who’s lost their way, and ‘Living In The In Between’ leans into a grungier 70s sound with Moore singing about a carefree woman who lives her life outside of societal norms.

The album’s highlights include the indie-pop feel of ‘In Other Words’ which sees Moore declaring her love for a significant other, and the emotionally honest ‘Heavy Lifting’, where Moore realises it’s her turn to take care of someone who has been there for her without question or complaint. The album comes to a close with the under-stated ‘Every Light’, a song Moore co-wrote with Goldsmith. It’s a beautiful ballad about waiting for the stars to align when you know that something is meant to be. Moore’s voice is gorgeous on the track and it’s a wonderful close to a musically varied and rich record.

Mandy Moore has been flying under the radar as a music artist for too long. She’s come such a long way since ‘Candy’ and she’s become a formidable singer and songwriter in her own right. There’s no denying that her music draws from Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Fleetwood Mac, but that’s a positive thing. With each album now Moore is digging deep and finding her feet as an artist with plenty of life experience and even more to say. ‘In Real Life’ is the kind of album that creeps up on you and once it gets into your veins, you won’t be able to stop listening to its stunning beauty.

Mandy Moore - In Real Life
Credit: Verve

Track list: 1. Real Life 2. Heartlands 3. Little Dreams 4. Just Maybe 5. Living in the In Between 6. In Other Words 7. Four Moons 8. Little Victories 9. Heavy Lifting 10. Brand New Nowhere 11. Every Light Record label: Verve Release date: 13th May 2022 Buy ‘In Real Life’ now

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