The singer-actress talks to PEOPLE about her new intensely personal album Wild Hope

Mandy Moore, whose upcoming Wild Hope is set for release in May, debuted five of her new songs in a live concert at a private mansion in the hills above Park City, Utah, on Saturday night.

Moore’s new sound is a sharp contrast to the bubblegum pop star she was when she started out. And with good reason: For the first time, she’s singing songs – including some intensely personal ones about breakups and self-discovery – that she wrote herself over the last two years, and recorded at a secluded studio in Woodstock, NY.

The mansion where she performed, rented by Jane magazine, was an intimate setting filled with only about 75 select guests – including her new beau, DJ A.M.

The singer, 22, sat down with PEOPLE to talk about growing up, writing her own songs, and looking forward to 2007.

Is it different singing songs on stage that you wrote?
Night and day – there’s just really no comparison.

Did you get more nervous than you used to?
I’m more nervous to actually have the material out there and to have people know that they are my words and my songs. But I’m less nervous actually to perform them because I feel comfortable.

It’s a big year for you: A new film (Because I Said So), an album, a Sundance film (Dedication). Did you plan it this way?
It’s all serendipitous. Obviously, last year I knew that 2007 was going to be sort of a year of change for me because I had all of these new projects, which really reflect a lot of growth that occurred last year. So I’ve been looking forward to 2007 for a while now.

Are you worried about putting personal songs out there?
It’s a little unsettling at times, but at the same time it’s like, you know what – I feel really lucky. I feel lucky to finally do the movies I want to do, and they’re my words and I’m proud of it, and you can sort of stand behind it with confidence and dive in headfirst.

The media will certainly analyze the lyrics looking for clues about your past relationships (especially with ex-boyfriend Zach Braff).
I’m not really worried about it. People can infer what they want from the songs and that’s perfectly fine. I just know in a selfish way it was like therapy for me. Whatever was going on in my life, just to be able to get it down and turn a negative situation into something I felt a little more positive about at the end of the day, it’s cathartic.

Any big plans for the rest of Sundance?
There are so many movies I want to see, but it’s just overwhelming. So I think I’m going to skip the movies and go straight to skiing.

Are you hitting the nightlife?
I am so not a night owl. I had one glass of wine before I performed and I’m like, “I am so ready to go to bed!” I’m done.