Just days before the season premiere of her NBC show â€œThis Is Us,â€Â Mandy MooreÂ dropped a new song and video called â€œWhen I Wasnâ€™t Watching.â€ The song is the lead single from her first album in a decade, which is slated for release early next year. The song was produced by longtime collaborator Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, and who led the power-pop group Candy Butchers) and the video was directed by Lauren Dukoff, photographer/director known for her work with Adele, BeyoncÃ©, and Lady Gaga.
The songâ€™s arrival is doubly significant because it is her first music since herÂ ex-husband Ryan Adams was blasted with multiple accusations of sexual harassment earlier this year; during that time, Moore spoke of Adams, with whom she collaborated extensively, dismissing her musical talent.
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â€œThe idea of diving back into music after so much time and personal change was really intimidating to me for a while,â€ Moore said in a statement accompany the song. â€œBut then I finally realized: Iâ€™m the only person who can make this move. It all has to start with me.â€
â€œI think everyoneâ€™s had the experience of feeling lost and not quite understanding how youâ€™ve found yourself at a certain point in your life,â€ she continued. â€œAnd I think the key is not to judge yourself for that. Iâ€™m a big believer in the idea that what youâ€™ve journeyed through is ultimately going to factor into the person you become, and how youâ€™ll greet whatever big challenge you face next.â€
Newly signed to Verve Forecast (a label whose roster also includes such esteemed artists as T Bone Burnett and J.S. Ondara), Moore began recording her upcoming album earlier this year. In a purposeful departure from the more tightly structured pop of her previous material, sheâ€™s worked closely with Viola and with her husband, Taylor Goldsmith (singer/guitarist/songwriter for L.A.-based folk-rock band Dawes), creating the albumâ€™s lyrics on her own and recording each song live with a full band setup.
â€œNo oneâ€™s playing to a click track â€” itâ€™s all happening live on the floor, which gives everything a magic and spontaneity thatâ€™s so different from what Iâ€™ve done on any other record,â€ says Moore. â€œAnd on top of that weâ€™re recording to tape, so thereâ€™s no reworking or editing: a take is a take. At first that was scary, but now itâ€™s become a fun sort of pressure that really fuels me.â€
The song recalls the L.A.-based rock of the early 1970s. â€œI wanted to make a very California-sounding record â€” something that feels sunshiny and airy and natural, something you could listen to driving up and down the PCH with all the windows rolled down on a beautiful weekend day,â€ she said.
Moore has another single due out before the end of the year. â€œI very much feel like Iâ€™m at the helm of the ship now, where Iâ€™m stepping back into music completely on my own terms,â€ she said. â€œEverything thatâ€™s happened up until this point has gotten me to where I am today, and Iâ€™m so excited to just keep moving forward.â€