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Mandy Moore, Coverage Epic
You've got to credit Mandy Moore for trying to be taken seriously, as something more than a perky teen pop diva. Moore has little to prove as an actress -- her performances, even in so-so films, have earned raves. It's the music career that's been a bit trickier. OK, so now she get serious and hands over a collection of covers by real artistes, artists like Joan Armatrading ("Drop the Pilot"), XTC ("Senses Working Overtime"), and the Waterboys ("Whole of the Moon"). There are some mainstream numbers in there as well -- and it's on those that Moore sounds most comfortable/confident. Perhaps that has something do with the fact that Moore wasn't even on the planet when many of these more obscure songs were written, and despite her bright, clear vocals, she isn't experienced enough as a singer to bring creative interpretations to these songs. You've got to credit producer John Fields, though; he expertly manages to update the songs without tampering with their musical essence. It's just that Moore's a bit too much of a lightweight (despite the newly dark hair) to give these songs a proper working over.