Mandy Moore first found fame as a 15-year-old pop star during the late-’90s teenpop boom. But these days, Moore is better known as an actor than as a singer. She’s racked up an impressive filmography over the last two decades, and these days, she’s a lead on two different shows: The NBC family drama This Is Us, where she’s consistently powerful as a matriarch who goes through a lot over the decades, and on the Disney Channel’s animated show Tangled: The Series, the TV adaptation of the Disney movie that also starred Moore. She hasn’t released an album since 2009’s Amanda Leigh. That’s about to change.
Moore has done plenty of singing in the past decade. On This Is Us, she sings all the time, and she plays, appropriately enough, a singer whose career is put on hold because of family responsibilities. (Moore also covered Little Feat’s “Willin’” for the show’s soundtrack a couple of years ago. I’m guessing she also sings on the Tangled show, though I haven’t seen it.) But for years, Moore was married to Ryan Adams. And earlier this year, she was one of the women who came forward to accuse Adams of sexual manipulation and abusive behavior.
Today, Moore has shared “When I Wasn’t Watching,” her first original song in more than a decade. It’s our first taste of Moore’s next album, which she’s planning to release next year. Moore has been working on the album with Jenny Lewis producer Mike Viola and with Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith, her husband. Moore co-wrote “When I Wasn’t Watching” with Viola, Goldsmith, and Jason Boesel, the former drummer of Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, and Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band.
“When I Wasn’t Watching” is a fine piece of contemplative, rootsy studio-pop — the kind of song that would’ve gotten heavy VH1 airplay in the ’90s. Of the song, Moore says, “I think everyone’s had the experience of feeling lost and not quite understanding how you’ve found yourself at a certain point in your life. And I think the key is not to judge yourself for that. I’m a big believer in the idea that what you’ve journeyed through is ultimately going to factor into the person you become, and how you’ll greet whatever big challenge you face next.”
Lauren Dukoff directed the “When I Wasn’t Watching” video, and it features Moore — the only person onscreen — looking glamorous, steely, and vulnerable, just as she so often does on This Is Us. Watch it below.
Moore’s as-yet-untitled album is coming in 2020 on Verve Forecast.