Album Review — Ingrid Andress’ ‘Lady Like’

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.

Grade: 8/10

Spinning All The Records — February 2020

Spinning All The Records is a brand new feature on Country Perspective that is a monthly overview of all the albums reviewed in the previous month on Country Perspective to give any readers, new and old, a quick look at what I covered and to catch anything you missed. In addition I take a look ahead at what I want to cover, upcoming album releases that catch my eye and a throwback album recommendation. So without further ado…

Looking back on February 2020, it was a surprisingly great month of high-quality releases. While the Tame Impala and John Moreland albums did not surprise me in the least with being great, the releases from Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, Tennis, and Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats really caught me off-guard with how great they were and proved themselves to be some of the best music you’ll hear in 2020. I did not expect to give this many high grades so soon and I mention this because something I didn’t like about myself in the past with this blog was so many 9s and 10s being given. But when I give them now I assure you that I put a lot more thought behind it. And I definitely welcome this influx of high grades, as the music is pretty damn good. If 2020 can continue to have months like this, we’re in for one hell of a year of music.

(Click on the album titles to read the full review)

Tenille Arts — Love, Heartbreak, Everything in Between

Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between is a good showing from Tenille Arts. The songwriting is really smart and shines at times and the production of Kline, Grand Vogelfanger and Adam Wheeler shows they know how to pull off a great pop country sound. A couple of unnecessary cuts, some average songwriting moments and a few small cases of getting carried away with the production bring this album down enough to prevent it from being a great album. But if you’re a fan of pop country I still recommend checking out Tenille Arts, as she shows a lot of promise and talent on Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between.

Pet Shop Boys — Hotspot

The highs the Pet Shop Boys deliver on Hotspot are really fun and are definitely memorable, while the lows are completely forgettable. It’s a bit of a roller coaster listen, but if you’re a fan of synth pop it’s worth listening to it a few times and picking out your favorite songs to go back to. But the album taken as a whole is just decent and leaves more consistency and cohesiveness to be desired.

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges — Texas Sun

Texas Sun is a truly brilliant little collection of music. As I said in the beginning, man I wish this was a full album instead of an EP. Khruangbin and Leon Bridges go together so well and come together to create a vibrant and colorful set of songs. It’s a true homage to the many sounds of Texas music that is fresh and invigorating. Do yourself a favor and listen to this exciting EP.

The Cadillac Three — COUNTRY FUZZ

Fun is a word I repeat over and over in this review. And it’s for good reason: that’s the ultimate appeal of The Cadillac Three and their album COUNTRY FUZZ. It’s entertaining country rock that aims to help you have a good time and forget your worries. The lyrics aren’t deep, and they aren’t meant to be; they’re meant to singalong with and have fun. So while this album may not be one for the record books or album of the year lists, it is an album that entertains and it’s exactly what you’re looking for when you just want to listen to something with loud guitars and big hooks.

Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats — UNLOCKED

Curry brings so much aggressive passion and rawness in his voice, along with his choice of diction in his delivery makes what would be an average banger into something that’s truly memorable. And this big reason is why UNLOCKED is the first great hip-hop album I’ve heard in 2020. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of ZUU (an album I’m ashamed I omitted from my best of 2019 list), this is yet another high-quality project from Denzel Curry (and another great one from Kenny Beats too).

Tennis — Swimmer

With Swimmer, Tennis delivers an excellent album about love. It’s quickly became one of my favorite love albums. And this isn’t rash hyperbole on my end. I’m being serious when I say that this album truly delivers a heartfelt, genuine and truly touching take on true love. Love albums and love song are an absolute dime-a-dozen. They’re churned out every day. Most only focus on the surface level of love and the flip-side with heartbreak. What they don’t ever seem to focus on are the little things, the nitty gritty of relationships that aren’t easy to convey in an informative and interesting way. But that takes brilliant songwriting with equally high-quality production that aids it. Tennis delivers this.

Tame Impala — The Slow Rush

The Slow Rush is another great album from Tame Impala without a doubt. But it’s also hard not to see this album is a few missteps away from equaling the brilliance of Currents. It lacks focus in a few spots and there’s one song that just isn’t needed. But this is also a bit nitpicking admittedly. The production from Parker is once again deeply rich and textured, engulfing you with it’s fantastic details. And the songwriting mostly hits. So ultimately I can say this is one of the best albums you’ll hear in 2020.

John Moreland — LP5

LP5 is another fantastic album from John Moreland. He’s always been a great songwriter since his first album, but it’s the recognition to grow and experiment with his sound starting with his last album that’s taken him to a whole new level in my mind. Too many singer-songwriter artists think they have to stick to a stripped-down, folk-y sound for their lyrics to be taken seriously. At the same time, drum machines are dismissed as “not real instruments” used by pop stars. Well with LP5, Moreland proves both these claims to be moot.

Looking Ahead to March 2020…

As of this moment, there’s a few albums I’m heavily considering reviewing that were released in February. Those would be the new albums from Nathaniel Rateliff, The Steeldrivers and Hailey Whitters. As far as other releases I may have not covered, they simply didn’t catch my eye enough to review them or I feel I didn’t have enough thoughts for a review. But I most likely did listen to it (I listen to a lot more albums than I review), so feel free to hit me up in the comments and ask me about those, as I’m happy to answer with my thoughts on them. I want this monthly post to serve as not only a monthly review, but a place to cover anything “in the cracks” so to speak.

As far as upcoming new releases in March 2020, there’s definitely a few I want to highlight that catch my eye more than others. I’m curious to hear the new live album from Cream, Goodbye Tour – Live 1968, coming out on March 6. Usually I don’t like to review live albums, but I wanted to throw this out there for those into classic rock. Caitlyn Smith will be dropping her new album Supernova on March 13. I loved the previous album Starfire and this new one appears to be pushing the sonic envelope even more, so I’m excited about that one. The enigmatic Jay Electronica is rumored to be finally dropping a new album on March 18. We’ll see, as you can never be sure with him.

The Weeknd just recently announced a release date for his new album After Hours. So far I’ve enjoyed the singles I’ve heard from it and for the most part I liked the previous album Starboy, but I found that album to be a bit too long for my liking. I’m glad to see this one is four songs shorter. This will be dropping on March 20. Finally, Ingrid Andress will be releasing her debut album Lady Like on March 27. I find her voice and style of pop country to be promising. Her songwriting comes off as both catchy and sharp (the song “Both” in particular impresses me). So I’m curious to hear what she brings to the table with her album.

A Throwback Album I’ve Been Listening To That I Recommend

Travis Tritt’s Country Club

If you want some fun and “drive” in your country, Travis Tritt and this album in particular are a great place to start. It’s amazing to me how underrated Tritt is when looking back at 90s country, as he undoubtedly released some of the best. This album in particular showed you could make a stone-cold country album that still incorporates elements from other genres. Most importantly, Tritt just has the “it” voice for country music.