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MANDY MOORE COVERAGE-SONY MUSIC
Record Rating: ****

Mandy Moore - Coverage In 1999, on the heels of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, this teenager released her debut pop album of paint-by-numbers dance tracks and sickeningly sweet ballads. Its success paled in comparison to her pop counterparts, but it performed well enough to sell over a million units. Since then shes released two more best-selling albums: and the soundtrack to her 2002 hit film A Walk To Remember. Shes even hosted her own show on MTV and at the moment Mandy Moore seems to the next big thing in Hollywood as well.

So youd expect her new release to sound exactly like the new Britney album but surprise, surprise it doesnt. It seems like her picking up greatest hits compilations of such legends as Elton John, Joni Mitchell and Joe Jackson opened her eyes to the timeless songs of the past - for shes abandoned her usual bubblegum pop on this one, and gone the Shania Twain way. Feeling inspired to let the younger generation know about these gifted singer-songwriters, Moore went into the studio sometime last year with producer John Fields, behind the back of her record label. The result is her newest offering Coverage. And its pretty good for an all covers album.

For starters - her take on the classic Blondie song One Way Or Another is much more approachable than the original, for she's skips past Deborah Harry's snarling rendition and instead opts for a much more sweetly teasing vocal performance. The twelve tracks range from the familiar Carole King (I Feel The Earth Move), Cat Stevens (Moonshadow), and Joni Mitchell (Help Me) to the hidden Elton John gem Mona Lisa & Mad Hatter - to even the obscure, with bands like the Waterboys (Whole of the Moon), XTC (Sense Working Overtime), and Joan Armatrading (Drop The Pilot).

While not every song is a complete keeper - Coverage as a whole album - is not such a bad offering. For the songs Moore has chosen to cover have stories to tell us, and she expertly allows her voice to do it pretty well. She seems to have matured from a young blonde pop singer to a sophisticated brunette as she reinvents the music and herself. Not bad for a couple of spins on your cd player.

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