This weekend: Ben Affleck in “The Way Back,” Mandy Moore’s first album in almost 11 years and Bond star Daniel Craig to host “Saturday Night Live.”
Mandy Moore never thought she’d release another album.
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, the Emmy-nominated “This Is Us” actress enjoyed success as a teen pop star, scoring infectious hits in “Candy,” “In My Pocket” and “I Wanna Be With You,” and touring with ‘NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. But her singing career came grinding to a halt after the release of her sixth album “Amanda Leigh” in 2009, the same year she married musician Ryan Adams. In a devastating interview with the New York Times last year, Moore detailed how Adams wrested control of her career, saying he refused to record songs they wrote together and undermined her as an artist.
In the years after their 2016 divorce, “there was a lot of work I had to do to re-frame my idea of whether or not I was still a musician,” Moore tells USA TODAY. “There was a big conversation around legitimacy, and a lot of baggage I had to drop in order to find my way back to the music landscape.”
That emotional journey is what led her to “Silver Landings,” out Friday, an achingly vulnerable album that builds on the ’70s-influenced folk pop of her previous efforts. She started writing in earnest about 18 months ago with producer Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis, Shania Twain) and husband Taylor Goldsmith, the lead singer of indie-rock band Dawes, whom she married in 2018.
Moore, 35, talks with USA TODAY about her new album and upcoming U.S. tour, kicking off March 20 in Pittsburgh.
Question: What made you want to start writing music again?
Answer: I think it all started when I started dating my husband (Goldsmith). Traveling around with them, they’re an incredible live band and have so much fun on stage – it’s really contagious. And I remember one of the first times watching Taylor thinking, “I’m kind of jealous because I want to be up there. I miss this so much.” It was a real light-bulb moment of, “I have to figure out a way to find myself on stage again.”
Then having music interwoven into my character’s backstory on “This is Us”, having to go into the recording studio and make music even in the very beginning of Season 1. That was a revelation for me as well, like, “Oh, I remember how to do this. I love this.” But for a long time, I leaned on the excuse of, “I want to do it, but I don’t have a music manager or a record label anymore. I wouldn’t even know how any of this works.” So I had to work my way into realizing it just starts with the song. I just have to write and then everything else will fall into place. That’s what happened with this record.
Q: Writing and recording with Taylor on this album, were you able to leave work in the studio or was it a constant in your home?
A: Living with and being married to a songwriter as prolific as Taylor, there’s constantly a guitar in his hand or a piano being played or a record on. Music is inescapable in our house, so we were always discussing things and I was constantly inspired. I very much felt like I had the ultimate partner and collaborator in Taylor. He was so happy to be by my side and helped usher me into this next chapter of my life. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to support your partner in that way and not let your ego infuse the experience. It only has strengthened our relationship and made us closer.
Honestly, the idea of being able to go on the road, and look to my left every night and see his face playing and singing with me, is a dream come true in every cheesy sense of the term. I’m just so beside myself with excitement, I can’t wait.
Q: Have you guys laid out any ground rules for touring together yet? (Goldsmith’s band Dawes will join her on the road.)
A:Well, we’re all coupled up. Most of us are married, so there’s not going to be any crazy, debaucherous behavior on the road. No one’s a big partyer and I don’t drink when I’m touring because I don’t like to dry my vocal cords out. So I think it’ll be a fairly mellow tour across the country with my favorite people in the world. But I hope maybe they’ll be a little cleaner in the bathroom, knowing there is a lady there 24/7 now. Hopefully their aim will be a little bit more accurate – that’s probably all I ask of them.
Q: Last year, you came forward with other brave women and talked about your emotionally abusive relationship (with ex-husband Ryan Adams) in the New York Times. Why was that important for you to do?
A: It was important to be a part of a community of women who were giving a voice to an issue and a conversation that I think a lot of women were desperate to be having around psychological and emotional abuse. The outpouring and wealth of support all of us received in the wake of that story was tremendously moving. And it’s a conversation we need to continue having. I’m happy to have been part of that jumping-off point, but I’m also happy to have told that story and to be able to move forward now, and not be impeded by my past.
Q: And how does it feel now, to not only have shared your story, but to finally have personal and artistic freedom?
A: It’s emotional, and it’s all starting to hit me. It’s sort of come in waves over the last year of the writing and recording process – it’s like every little step has been something new for me to really stop and appreciate and reckon with, and I think touring won’t be an exception. But I’m really proud to be making music again on my own terms and I’m excited about the future. And I’m really looking forward to keeping this momentum going. I don’t want to have another 10, 11-year lapse in between albums. I feel like I’ve found this incredible team of collaborators in Mike and Taylor, and I just look forward to seeing what we’ll do together on this tour and beyond.
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