All too often fans and critics quickly, and probably lazily, if we’re being honest, equate slick pop arrangements with saccharine, empty lyrical content. It’s as if only gritty, so-called “organic” instrumentation can house lyrics dealing in unadorned truth and unflinching vulnerability. Obviously, this isn’t true, but it’s tough to argue that combining open-hearted reality with pristine production can be a tough trick to pull off effectively, let alone believably.
A quick peek at the already impressive resume for singer-songwriter Ingrid Andress informs the reader she’s more than capable of working this type of multi-textured magic. The Denver native attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and has already been nominated for the ACM New Female Artist of the Year. As a songwriter, she’s already penned songs with noted pop idols Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX, among others.
On the country side of things, Andress already has a country radio hit with the picturesque, piano-drive “More Hearts Than Mine.” By letting the new object of her affection know that by leaving her, he’s be hurting those closest to her as well, she expertly offers up one of the more inventive, unique takes on a blossoming love story we’ve heard in a while.
Although she’s clearly a unique talent with her own, Andress does veer into a sort of trap that many younger artists tend to toy with in that the aforementioned pop-heavy arrangements and production lend themselves to sound like, and perhaps too much so, some of the prominent artists currently topping the charts. Her lyrical creations, however, are tremendously helpful in defining her music aside from some of the sonic sameness.
The dramatic, atmospheric “We’re Not Friends” offers bold, to-the-point lyrics about crossing the proverbial “friendship line” (“Friends don’t do the things we do.”) backdropped by slow-burning musical flourishes. The mix of after-dark desire and soft but anthemic, swelling choruses give both “The Stranger” and “Anything But Love” the type of salty and sweet combo Taylor Swift has made millions of dollars from.
There’s plenty else here suggesting Andress has a vision all her own, however. The album-opening “Bad Advice” is a breezy, even jaunty bit of countrypolitan fun with orchestral flare. Even the modern mention of Trader Joe’s in the song feels natural rather than hokey. In “Life and the Party” and “Lady Like,” the title track, her ability to twist common phrases which come pre-loaded with belittling definitions, into something empowering and all her own is as refreshing as it is admirable.