Moore to Love

Mandy Moore returns with a crafty new album that proves some "Candy" can mature into more substance than sugar. On topics from her gay brother's pre-Prop. 8 marriage to those Britney comparisons, Mandy doesn't hold back.

BY David Michael Conner

May 25 2009 11:00 PM ET

Unless you're Courtney Love -- who made headlines recently for her bizarre verbal attack ("Christ ugh igh ugh Mandy Moore ick the thoufghg of her sticking her toungue downthat filthy hatch...") -- you like Mandy Moore.

There simply isn't any reason not to: She somehow manages to be intelligent and entirely positive at the same time. From her self-mocking role on Entourage to her hilariously vitriolic performance as a hypocritical religious teen in Saved! Moore is good at being loved. While Britney is busy recovering and relapsing and Christina Aguilera is still learning that her huge voice is best when it's less, not more, Moore is taking the slow and steady route along her chosen path and not looking back.

Amanda Leigh is in many respects Moore's most accomplished album, though her previous release, Wild Hope, was a pleasant surprise to most critics.

Moore knows her reputation. "I'm fully aware," she writes in her press notes, "that when some people hear my name in a musical context, it's not often equated to anything earth-shattering."

It's true, but that doesn't mean it's not good music. Think Natalie Merchant: That's the sort of sonic artist Moore has become -- a sincere, nuanced writer whose songs can settle your mood after hearing just a few notes.

Yes, world, little Mandy Moore has grown into a sophisticated singer-songwriter whom Sarah McLachlan would be smart to tap for the next edition of Lilith Fair. Now, if only we can get Moore to believe it as much as we do ...

Advocate.com: Do you find that you're still compared to your early-career contemporaries?Mandy Moore: I don't think so -- not so much anymore. The only time that comes up these days is in this sort of interview. [ Laughs ] We've all sort of found our own clear paths. We've been able to differentiate ourselves from one another over the years. I think if we all started doing music today, then I don't think we'd really be compared to one another.

You've become quite a singer-songwriter. What pushed you in that direction? I guess we can attribute that to taste. I love that sort of music. I knew pretty early on -- I wouldn't say when I was 15, necessarily, but pretty soon thereafter, when I started listening to Carole King and Joni Mitchell and Todd Rundgren and all those singer-songwriters of a certain era. I knew that one day I wanted to write my own music. But to continue to discover music like that ... I don't know, I wanted to follow suit, follow that path. I wouldn't say that my ... contemporaries [ laughs ] have followed the wrong path. They've certainly found plenty of success doing what they do best. This is just what I loved.

You mention Joni Mitchell and people of an older generation quite a bit ... maybe it's mostly the instrumentation on this album, but I also hear certain affinities to Fiona Apple's music, something even a little Rufus Wainwright-like in the sound. Oh, wow! Thank you. Cool. Thanks, well, that's ... I love both of them, so I take that as a compliment. I really gravitate toward people that have a distinctive voice. I tend to really go toward stuff from the '70s -- Todd Rundgren, I love Wings, I love Paul McCartney. Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman, the Beach Boys. All that stuff, I think, was sort of put into the melting pot and was infused into the record.

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