Diving Into Mandy Moore’s ‘Real’ World

There are many ways to fall in love; often gradually and achingly, occasionally fleetingly, sometimes abruptly, exceptionally.

Falling for Mandy Moore over the last two decades has been a little bit of all of the above. All at once you were in her twinkling, translucent bubble of syrupy pop superstardom. “Candy” and “Crush,” unrelated to the smartphone game but similar in inescapability, were quick to take over. That moment was the pinnacle of Y2K for someone like Mandy Moore, complete with butterfly clips and a Sony Walkmen. Then and there was the world’s abrupt adoration for the sweet-toned singer.

Soon the world was knee-deep a momentary love affair with budding actress Moore, an era where she captured a variety of off-the-wall and intense energies in film characters – hasty and uppity in The Princess Diaries, innocent and dreamy in A Walk to Remember, bold and inspiring in Chasing Liberty. These bled slowly, but serendipitously into her Emmy Award-deserving role on the recently concluded NBC standout This Is Us as a moral matriarch and optimist extraordinaire. (Her character, Rebecca Pearson, has the same heartwarming cadence as her true self; allowing her six-season-long gig to pave the way for her very own motherhood journey alongside our friend, Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith.)

We are now in the exceptional era of Miss Moore, diving headfirst into the depths of her artistic abilities and innermost vulnerabilities. That is what In Real Life is all about. This is that moment – and it is first class. She glows from the inside out, and whether that’s the idea of a new beginning stirring inside of her, the warmth of motherhood, or the overall grounding felt upon being a creative during exceptionally uncreative, pandemic-riddled times, it’s evident. 11 songs, no features, just quaint storytelling, dynamic vocals, and bustling musicality from Mandy More. (Album highlights: the oh-so-wise “Little Dreams” and “Little Victories,” coincidentally.)

Intimate is a word being thrown around quite frequently when it comes to the musicianship and craftsmanship of this record. This is true in every sense of the word, for intimacy is weaved intricately throughout the beautiful new album, within every poignant lyric, and carefully under each melody. You see the lightest, airiest version of Moore come through as she is a porous singer-songwriter. Gracious, elegant, and personal, she is completely and utterly at the helm of In Real Life – and the world would be at a loss if not.

Like intimacy, introspection plays an enormous role in the stories told, but not only are those narratives being conveyed as wholly Moore’s, but within the groove and musicality. Every note on the piano and riff on an acoustic feels purposeful, but playful. Jovial is a word that comes to mind often throughout a listening session of In Real Life. Hopeless romantics and big dreamers are to be seen and heard on this album. The harmonious artist links arms with them, connects with them, agrees, and sympathizes, but manages to pull them back down to her healthy and earthy level (which, it is important to note, is a level filled with kindhearted encouragement and emotive understanding). At only 38-years-old, Moore is a veteran, far from naïve, and generous with her unique folk pop stylings when open to sharing them.

In Real Life is lucky number seven for the compassionate and worldly performer. It gives us more, figuratively in the sense of the world being opened up to a Mandy Moore yet to be truly seen, and literally in how much more the multi-hyphenate can share with her now generations of fans.