MANDY MOORE: From Pop to Art

If she’d begun the process to learn more about how songs come to life, evolve and take shape, she’d crafted 11 songs that embody her journey. “A lot of people go through these lessons in high school or college; I’m going through them now,” Moore says. “But I think everybody does.”

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Produced by John Alagia-known for his work with Yamagata, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, etc.-at Allaire Studios in upstate New York, Moore worked to match her sonic wishes to each song’s emotional/confessional core. Recording in the fall, with pal Yamagata dropping by and sitting in, they crafted an almost haiku-like folk-rock meditation on the phases of survival heartbreak, embracing growth and basking in the gloriousness of being alive.

“The record feels like fall to me,” she concedes, considering everything that went into Wild Hope. “We were up on top of this mountain in the Catskills, with these giant trees, leaves turning…but there was also a sense of a new beginning-like a new school year, and there’s everything to discover.

“[We were in] this gigantic studio with 45-foot ceilings and these insane, incredible musicians who were working on something that I had a part in writing. Being there, singing the songs over and over…it was what I’d wanted it to be, except it was actually happening.”

Her aw-shucks, oh wow factor is on stun. It is guileless, genuine, inspiring. For a girl who’s made movies, been a pop star and survived fame without becoming a punch line, this is her thrill zone-and she’s not so jaded as to play it off.

In fact, she’s hoping that through YouTube, Myspace and the hand of her management company the Firm-who’ve partnered with EMI in a put-the-power, profits-and-creative-control in the hands of the artist approach-and their fledging label, this is the beginning.

With three more major films soon to be released, songs written with Brandi Carlile and Hem, beyond her Wild Hope collaborators and a record that should establish her as a writer/artist to be reckoned with, Moore’s willingness to keep chasing her music is ablaze. Given what it took to get here, she doesn’t get bogged down in what was hard; rather, she’s consumed by the thrill of walking into Lori McKenna’s kitchen or hanging in Hollywood bars, watching young acts like Brett Dennen, Inara George and Greg Kurstin’s fizzy tropical trance jazz act the Bird & the Bee, and recording the swollen glory of “Gardenia” as a summer flamed out before her.

If you can count the blessings or the bumps, Mandy Moore doesn’t have to choose. Just like she knows how much the music means to her: “Everything.”

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