Single Review: Ingrid Andress, “The Stranger”

Ingrid Andress The Stranger Cover

“The Stranger”

Ingrid Andress

Written by Ingrid Andress and Ryan Lafferty

The second single from Ingrid Andress’ Lady Like album, “The Stranger” mostly carries the same strengths as her excellent debut single, “More Hearts Than Mine.” She’s a powerful vocalist with a real sense of urgency, hence why her frustration with where this relationship is headed truly shines.

Plus, it’s always nice to hear a country-pop record that borrows more from the lusher tendencies of a Caitlyn Smith song than the choppy, lifeless tendencies of a Sam Hunt one. The hazy reverb opening the track doesn’t do it justice, as it’s mostly a sparse track otherwise, carried by piano, organ, pedal steel and gentler percussion. Ironically, that subtle, seamless blending is how the track builds its power.

I do, however, wish we’d gotten some better details to flesh out the story; either that or a third verse. Or a stronger bridge. Anything, really. A dance on a barroom floor is hardly new for a country love song.

That’s, of course, provided that one can call it a country song anyway. Andress’ vocal timbre owes more to contemporary pop vocalists and doesn’t yet quite reflect a distinct style, but, given how, again, her musical brand is far more appealing than other artists getting away with far worse on a country radio playlist, it’s merely something to point out rather than a flaw.

Plus, it’s all about the performance anyway, which Andress nails effortlessly.

Grade: B

7 Comments

  1. As recently as three years ago, this would have been pushed to Hot AC and CHR alongside Julia Michaels and Daya. Why Andress is suddenly being touted as a country act has far more to do with the genre’s willingness to accommodate any and all pop trends that have run their course than anything to do with Andress herself.

    That’s not to say she isn’t talented, but I’ll be honest and say that I cannot stand the Sickly Muppet Vocal Affect that has been a thing since Simon Cowell left American Idol to tell a generation of middling singers to knock it the hell off.

  2. Must admit that, given how it’s only my third review here and I’m not sure how many people recognize my name from other outlets, I wasn’t sure how hard to push the “country v. pop” narrative. I don’t want to come across as a purist, of course, but on the other hand … yeah, you hit the nail on the head with your comment.

    I will say it’s one reason I was disappointed with her debut album as a whole, even though I do think this and her debut single are two of the stronger cuts on it.

  3. I like this one. I agree that it’s not particularly country (though I hear some steel in there, I think) but it’s a pleasant sounding song. I like the warmth to her voice. I guess I’m okay with her kind of vocal style.

  4. Honestly for me I don’t really mind if a song is country or not within limits (Breland, “Old Town Road”, Blanco Brown) as long as the song itself is good above all else. Which for me this is and Ingrid Andress seems really talented and I am hopeful she can succeed when so many women are struggling to succeed at country radio

  5. Oh, neither do I. I just felt the point was important to acknowledge; but I didn’t want it to be the driving point of the review.

    I am happy for her success, as well. Good point.

  6. Just to clarify my first comment: I don’t super care that the song doesn’t scan as Country in any kind of genre purity sense. Just observing how the market for Andress’ exact sound has shifted from Hot AC / CHR to Country in the span of a couple of years.

    I do care that I don’t like her vocal timbre at all. That’s not unique to her, but it’s clearly an affectation. If she were to stop doing it, her natural timbre would likely sound very different. Sort of like how Ray LaMontagne’s natural singing voice probably sounds a whole lot more like, I don’t know, Jason Mraz’s than the Dusty Old Man Hat Voice he sings with on record.

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