In what has been a perpetually surprising career filled with increasingly pleasant surprises, Mandy Moore boldly goes where no teen-pop starlet has gone before: the vinyl bins at the back of her local record shop. As evidenced on her 2001 album (which she pointedly called Mandy Moore), the singer/actress has come a long way from the Britney-shaped cookie-cutter mold of her first hit “Candy,” and rather than cover obvious pop fodder on her third proper studio release, a cover album appropriately titled Coverage, Moore has chosen more obscure tunes to express her new penchant for 45’s (Elton John’s “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters” wasn’t ever released as a single). Though there’s no updating lyrics like “Oh baby, when I see your face/Mellow as the month of May,” Moore gives Carole King’s soul classic “I Feel The Earth Move” and XTC’s “Senses Working Overtime” a contemporary feel with turntable scratches and a harder rock vibe. She gives Jewel a run for her money on Cat Stevens’ plaintive “Moon Shadow,” breathing life into transcendent lyrics Britney and Avril wouldn’t even know what to do with: “If I ever lose my mouth…I won’t have to talk.” The album’s stand-out surprise is The Waterboys’ “The Whole Of The Moon,” with its collage of brass instruments and a stunning vocal performance by Moore that Spin recently likened to “a middle-aged French heroin addict with a string of ex-boyfriends who beat her.” A few of Moore’s choices (middle-of-the-road soft-rock like Todd Rundgren’s “Can We Still Be Friends” and Joe Jackson’s “Breaking Us In Two”) aren’t exactly “edgy,” but her cover of Blondie’s 1978 hit “One Way Or Another” is so exhilarating that one can’t help but wonder how her newfound influences will inform her next album.
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