By the time Ingrid Andress unveils her new album this week, her resolve will have been tested in ways that would rattle established stars, much less a country-pop newcomer making a major label debut.
Out Friday, “Lady Like” is gearing up to be Andress’ breakout, with its tender first single, “More Hearts Than Mine,” already a Top 10 country smash. Plans for the album’s rollout, however, took a hit when a tornado struck central Tennessee on March 3, damaging Andress’ Nashville apartment and forcing her to evacuate.
Though she’d been booked as a supporting act on Dan + Shay’s (Arena) Tour this spring, that 18-date trek was cut short on March 12 after just three performances when the spread of the coronavirus prompted the remaining shows to be postponed.
“It’s been an adventure, but that’s been my whole life up until this point,” the 28-year-old Colorado native, who has also written for Sam Hunt and Alicia Keys, told HuffPost. “I still feel like people will connect to my songs because all of them come from a real place. At least we can still listen to music when we’re quarantined.” (Catch the music video for “More Hearts Than Mine” below.)
As dicey as the weeks preceding its release have been, “Lady Like” serves as a bold and impressive introduction to Andress’ artistry. Bucking the streaming era trend of overstuffing new releases with subpar material, the album contains just eight tracks. Nonetheless, “Lady Like” is remarkably cohesive, with each song capturing Andress at different moments in a romantic trajectory against wistful piano and guitar-driven melodies. Among albums worthy of these self-isolating if reflective times, “Lady Like” is easily a front-runner.
The album opens with “Bad Advice,” a pleasantly retro ode that finds the singer trying to rebound from a breakup by kissing strangers and chugging wine from Trader Joe’s. She seeks to define a complicated relationship on “Both” and “We’re Not Friends,” before delving into poignant heartbreak once more on the anthemic ballad “Anything But Love.”
Andress is at her most lyrically adventurous, however, on “More Hearts Than Mine,” in which she contemplates how loved ones will react if she and a partner call it quits. Likewise, the album’s title track is a powerful statement denouncing the pressure women face with regard to maintaining gender norms.
And while she’s relatively early in her career, Andress set a unique precedent last year when “More Hearts Than Mine” became the only debut single released by a female artist in 2019 to hit the Top 20 on country radio. (It’s fared well on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, too, coming in at No. 56 this week on the magazine’s list of the 100 most popular songs in the country.)
“I didn’t realize that women were at such a disadvantage in this genre until it was too late, [so] I wanted to write songs that update people on what the modern woman feels,” she said of the milestone. “We’re not just wearing cutoff shorts and drinking beer all the time and dancing. We actually have feelings and emotions that are deep, and want to be understood.”
Acknowledging artists like Kelsea Ballerini and Kacey Musgraves, she added, “I used to be told all the time that I was not very feminine and that it was not good. But I feel like women are making a comeback right now ... it used to be that we needed to fit into a certain stereotype in order to be noticed or acknowledged in country music. I’m glad we’re getting back to real stories, what’s happening in real life.”
With her Dan + Shay gig currently on hold, Andress is nonetheless still anxious to hit the road in 2020. If all goes according to plan, she’ll support Thomas Rhett on select dates of his Center Point Road Tour in May.
She’s also slated to perform before her largest audiences to date in July when she opens for Tim McGraw on his Here On Earth Tour, which is expected to hit stadiums in Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago, among other cities, this summer.
For now, however, Andress will be content if “Lady Like” offers listeners some comfort in uncertain times.
“Hopefully, people will want to get in their feels, because that’s what this album will do,” she said. “If people relate to it, I’ve done my job as a storyteller.”