The first time I heard the voice of Ingrid Andress, I was intrigued. She simply brings a different style and approach to country music that I find refreshing. And her debut album Lady Like only reinforces this idea. Opening track “Bad Advice” immediately grabs your attention with it’s strings-driven and lush sound. Not only is Andress’ voice different, but the production feels a little different too (a credit to Andress, Sam Ellis and her team of producers). The song is about Andress continually following the bad romantic advice from people around her and not finding any luck in the game of love. But as she wise cracks, she’s getting pretty good at getting it wrong. It’s clever and memorable songwriting.
“Both” is my favorite song from Andress so far. The song is about Andress proclaiming to a friend they can’t keep blurring the line between being friends and romantic partners. The dramatic, tug-of-war nature of the production, Andress’ energetic vocal performance and the logical progression of the story and songwriting makes this song an all-around home run in my eyes. “We’re Not Friends” plays along this same theme of blurred relationship lines, but has a more happy nature of the realization that a friendship is more than that. And with this being one of the main themes of this short album, I have to say this is my least favorite take on the subject. It lacks urgency and is a bit sleepy for my taste, as it just doesn’t grab my attention.
“The Stranger” is another standout on Lady Like, as it’s a song about a couple recalling the story of how they met each other. All of the little details that are included and the wistful, nostalgic feeling conveyed by the production makes for a cool little story (the surprise pedal steel guitar in the bridge is a nice touch too). And it’s story songs like these that show why country music is so great. “Anything But Love” is about not being able to move on from a relationship, the feelings lingering and refusing to dissipate. Once again I enjoy the vibrant texture of the production, mashing both pop and country elements together well. Andress does a great job of conveying the desperate, frustrating feelings of the lyrics in her vocal performance too.
I didn’t really like the album’s lead single “More Hearts Than Mine” at first, but upon more listens it’s really grown on me. Despite the song being a bit predictable and check list-y, it has a lot of heart thanks to Andress’ vocal performance. The uplifting nature of the production also sucks you into the song and story being told. “Life of the Party” is about throwing yourself into partying and drinking to get over a breakup. Andress insists over and over that she’s fine and that she’s even the life of the party. But it’s not convincing, as Andress shows more frustration in her vocal performance as the song progresses and by the end is practically screaming. Despite the lyrics being a bit same-ish throughout, it’s this impassioned vocal performance that ultimately makes the song a solid listen.
The album’s title track closes the album and it’s an autobiographical song, as Andress proclaims who she is and how she may not always act like a lady in some ways, she does in other ways. In a way it’s appropriate after spending the entire album centered around relationships that she comes back to herself because she seems to shed the doubt and insecurity expressed in previous songs and is now showing her confidence. The song also returns to the opening track’s orchestra-driven sound, which is a nice call-back. It’s not an emphatic and amazing close to the album, but another solid pop country song nonetheless.
Lady Like is a great debut album from Ingrid Andress. The most important thing she accomplishes with this album is how she establishes her brand of pop country as a little different from the rest of the sub-genre. It’s so easy to get lost in this sea of sound, but Andress doesn’t have this problem at all. She brings a more vibrant sound to her production that respects both pop and country sounds. Not to mention she has a powerful voice that is distinct. I’m really excited to hear more from Ingrid Andress, as she is without a doubt one of the most exciting new artists to emerge in country music.