A true gem
American sweetheart Mandy Moore has been a shining part of the entertainment industry for over 20 years. She began her singing career in 1998 as a teenager and jumped onto the radar in ‘99 with her debut single “Candy” and then followed up with her debut album So Real later that year. She worked on the music side of the industry for a few years but eventually dabbled in film and even received recognition for her leading role in the 2002 film, A Walk to Remember. For many years Moore has released albums and taken on different movie and TV roles, most notably she was the voice of Princess Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled and more recently her role as Rebecca Pearson in the Emmy nominated drama series This Is Us. After more than ten years of focusing on acting, Moore has graced us yet again with her sweet voice and lovely words in her latest album, Silver Landings.
Silver Landings opens on track “I’d Rather Lose”, with its bluesy tone and indie influence, it’s quite the change from her bubblegum pop days of the late ’90s. Another bonus is that Moore helps pen her songs now too, which just adds an element of honesty to the emotions in her voice. The following song is another with soulful softness, “Save A Little For Yourself,” which also has simple but stirring lyrics like, “not all pain is black and blue / strongest people come unglued / when someone gets the best of you / don’t let them take the rest of you.”
Probably the rawest and most real song on the record is one titled “Fifteen.” A nostalgic acoustic song that tells the story of how she was quite young when she came into the spotlight, and she missed many milestones most of us experience in life because of it. She shares the loneliness and reality of the situation with lyrics like, “world was falling at her feet/ she thought she was making music / but she was only filling seats.” and, “ missed prom/ missed graduation/ no college in the fall/ on the road with the boy bands singing for the people in the mall.” There’s even an ode to her first studio album in the line, “somewhere between the demo/ and the lonely public eye/ So Real/ real famous/ without even knowing why.” On the same wavelength, track, “Tryin’ My Best, Los Angeles” also plays on the feeling of making it young in Hollywood and following your dreams, which she clearly experienced and it can be heard in the nature of her voice.
There is plenty of openness in all the songs, as well as a subtle country vibe. Especially on tracks like “When I Wasn’t Watching” and “Forgiveness.” While the music and instrumentation themselves present a slight contemporary country feel, it’s the emotional storytelling in the lyrics like, “the fear of what I’m facing in the mirror/ stops me cold and leaves me here/ a little lost, a little rough/ the lack of answers all add up/ to who we are when nobody’s looking/ what I become when I wasn’t watching” that really sells the sentiment.
Throughout the album, Moore manages to keep that unmistakable ’90s quality to her voice, however, infused with her signature sweetness that just adds a sort of wistfulness to her music that is solely her. Although her voice is still as the ’90s and soft as ever, the music itself has matured from super saccharine pop to ageless acoustic pop. Every single song on the project is easy listening, but with substance. Quite the feat in modern music, particularly in all things pop. Moore even helped co-write on every single track, which again seems to be a rarity for “big name” singers. Her vulnerability and good heart can be heard in every note and word. We’re lucky to have a true gem like Mandy Moore in music.