There’s a lot to look forward to in 2020, and at the top of our list is a certain former pop star’s return to music. This Is Us star Mandy Moore explained the inspiration for her new album, due out in early March, and it sounds like the NBC drama actually had quite a bit to do with it. It’s been over a decade since Moore’s last album (Amanda Leigh was released in 2009), and in a new interview, the star shares about her songwriting process and return to the music industry.
Moore talked to Billboard about the upcoming album, which both the outlet and the singer classify as highly personal to her experience. “I’m not a developed enough songwriter at this juncture of my musical life to know how to write about other things,” Moore laughs. She does, however, know why she started writing songs again.
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Rebecca Pearson, Moore’s character on This Is Us, is also a former singer who starts performing again as the seasons progress. “Every time I sang live on set, I felt kind of rusty,” Moore confessed. “But man, it really lit a fire in me again. I’d forgotten how much I loved this.”
Newly inspired to make music, Moore signed with Verve Forecast and teamed up with Verve’s Mike Viola to write the album. And Moore made one other bold move in 2019 that seems to have played into her return to music: In February, she spoke to The New York Times about her emotionally abusive relationship with ex-husband Ryan Adams.
Adams’s abusive behavior affected Moore emotionally, mentally, and physically — and it took a toll on her music career too. “Music was a point of control for him. He would always tell me, ‘You’re not a real musician, because you don’t play an instrument,'” Moore told the Times in February 2019. “His controlling behavior essentially did block my ability to make new connections in the industry during a very pivotal and potentially lucrative time — my entire mid- to late 20s.”
Five years after separating from Adams, Moore is finally able to speak clearly, both about their relationship and as a musician. This new album, she explained to Billboard, was a chance for her to finally express feelings she’d suppressed for a long time — but she wants to be clear that the album is in no way connected to ex Adams.
“I said everything I really wanted to say about that person, and I’m done having them be a part of my life whatsoever moving forward. To me, it’s just about owning my side of the street.”
The good news? Moore says creating this album has exceeded all her hopes for what returning to music would feel like. “It may not sound like it’s that big of a deal,” she said, humble as ever. “But for me, it was revelatory to be a part of that process — a real rush of adrenaline that I’ve never felt before. I just loved that sense of adventure.”
After all, Moore’s journey from a 15-year-old pop star to now has been filled with so many ups and downs — including, but not limited to her six-year marriage to Adams and her three-years-and-counting run on This Is Us. “I look back at [the younger] version of myself and just want to give her a big hug,” Moore mused. “I don’t think I really knew what I was in for.”
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