LOS ANGELES - Mandy Moore doesn't mind being perpetually seen as the "good girl" - even if she thinks that image is a bit skewed.
"You know what? It's fair to say that I am proud and honored that the perception out there is that I'm a good per-son. That's, to me, the highest compliment. I try to be a good person," the 25-year-old entertainer said in a recent interview. "But I don't think it's completely accurate to say that I'm just good. There is balance in life. You can't have good without a little bad."
Her latest album, "Amanda Leigh," may underscore her point. At first listen, the perfectly perky first single, "I Could Break Your Heart Every Day of the Week," sounds like something tailor-made for today's tweens. But listen again and you'll hear a lyric, co-written by Moore, which sounds as if it was coming from a dominatrix: "Squeeze the life out of you/Wrap you in sheets/I could break your heart any day of the week."
"It's very tongue in cheek, not to be taken to heart by any means," Moore said. "It's sassy, if you will, and a little edgier and no-nonsense - a side of myself that doesn't really come out too often. But it was sort of fun to go there for the sake of the music."
With a folk-rock-pop fusion, "Amanda Leigh" - which takes its title from her given name - tips its hat to mid-1970s era Joni Mitchell and also pays homage to Paul and Linda McCartney's crunchy-granola classic "Ram" (1971). The CD also marks Moore's first release with indie Storefront Recordings after a decade with major recording la-bels.
"Starting out when you're 14 and signing to a major record label sort of in the heyday of pop music and over-spending and sort of all that gluttony, it's really nice to sort of really come back to what's important," said Moore, who first rose to fame as a 15-year-old with the bubblegum song "Candy," then matured in her sound and style over various recordings and became known as an actress for films including "A Walk to Remember."
When she was in the early stages of putting together the album, Moore's ex-boyfriend, DJ AM (Adam Goldstein), and musician Travis Barker were seriously injured in a September plane crash that killed two crew members and two other passengers. Moore sprinted to be at his side in an Augusta, Ga. burn unit - which, Moore said, some media outlets took the wrong way.
"It kind of saddened me," she recalled. "When everything went down it was like, 'Oh, they're dating again.' I was like, 'In this day and age with everything that's going on in the world, it made me sad that there was not a value to friendship,' which, to me is often more important than the other stuff, anyway."
Earlier this year, Moore married famously tortured singer-songwriter Ryan Adams. Moore says the indie artist couldn't help but influence her new album just by his presence - but he didn't contribute in any direct way.
Though some of considered the union an odd pairing, Moore bristles when it's suggested that the "good girl" and her new alt-country husband are a case of opposites attracting.
"To be perfectly honest, I can understand the interest and fascination with our relationship, but there's definitely more than what meets the eye," she said. "I don't think it's a very yin-and-yang relationship. In fact, I feel like we're probably a lot more like most people would imagine and that's wonderful. … Life is good. I lucked out."