In Real Life

May 12, 2022
Web Exclusive

By Hayden Godfrey

Mandy Moore, she of This Is Us and film fame, has always maintained a rather discrete profile as a pop rock songwriter with a flair for the picturesque. In Real Life, Moore’s seventh full-length effort, continues that modest tradition with a nuanced but safe record that, if nothing else, is mildly pleasant and simplistically enjoyable.

Though generally somewhat forgettable, Moore’s conversational lyricism and hooky melodies do shine on a few tracks, namely the cute “Brand New Nowhere” and the catchy “In Other Words.” Elsewhere, “Little Dreams” evokes the soft backbeats of Fleetwood Mac, while “Heavy Lifting” and “Living In the In Between” offer distinctly swampy, earthy tones that are a nice change of pace from the swoony, romantic vibe of the rest of the album. Instrumentally speaking, the record’s wholesomeness is buoyed quite nicely by the subtle work of Moore’s husband, Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith, keyboardist Lee Pardini (Aimee Mann, The War on Drugs), and bassist Sebastian Steinberg (Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple, Iron & Wine), all of whom establish a solid foundation.

Still, In Real Life’s appeal is thwarted by its mediocre middle portion (“Just Maybe,” “Four Moons,” “Little Victories”) which seems both half-hearted and entirely unremarkable when compared to the rest of Moore’s catalog.
At the end of the day, In Real Life is a rather mediocre effort that does little to move Moore’s career beyond that of a middle-of-the-road pop act. It may not be offensive in tone, but it lacks a certain depth that would better showcase Moore’s familiar and warm aura. (

Author rating: 5.5/10

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