(Storefront Recordings **)
When onetime teenage icon Mandy Moore released her fifth album, Wild Hope, in 2007, it marked the first time Moore had cowritten an entire album. With heavy folk and singer-songwriter elements, it was a noticeable departure from her earlier radio-ready pop tunes. She also cowrote her latest album, Amanda Leigh, and it takes another step away from the preteen MTV limelight and delves further into alt-rock territory. Whether she is performing a Decemberists-inspired orchestral-pop number or belting out lively melodies lifted from the 1940s Broadway stage, there is a compelling earnestness, even innocence, to Moore's vocals. Yet, while songs are well-written and orchestrated, Amanda Leigh lacks anything truly stunning or groundbreaking to bring Moore to the forefront of her new genre.