Release Date: May 26, 2009
Record label: Storefront
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
Last time we heard from Moore, on 2007’s folky Wild Hope, she went a little too far proving she was over her teen-pop past, and the result was as snoozy as it was tasteful. Titled after the name her parents gave her, Amanda Leigh is much more fun, with twisty-turny melodies (”Merrimack River”); jazzy, Broadway-influenced arrangements (”Pocket Philosopher”); and one track that sounds — improbably enough — like Fragile-era Yes (”Song About Home”). Considering her recent marriage to Ryan Adams, might classic-rock Mandy be something we can expect more of in the future? B+ Download This: Listen to the song Pocket Philosopher at smokinnewmusic.com .
Amanda Leigh is Mandy Moore's full given name, so it stands to reason that this, her sixth album, finds the pop starlet turned singer/songwriter getting real -- not necessarily confessional, but intimate, a record that follows the form and feel of her AAA makeover, Wild Hope. Amanda Leigh improves on that mannered, earnest record not by abandoning or heavily reworking the template (one that has essentially been in place ever since Mandy discovered '70s singer/songwriters on her 2003 covers album, Coverage), but by strengthening its foundation through working with sympathetic collaborators, chiefly Mike Viola, the singer/songwriter behind the Candy Butchers who has also written period-specific pastiches for the films Walk Hard and That Thing You Do. Viola works on all but one song here -- Lori McKenna, a Wild Hope veteran, is responsible for "Every Blue" -- and Inara George, half of the Bird and the Bee, contributes to three tunes, and their work helps steer Moore toward the neo-classicist pop she's been striving to create for the better part of a decade now.