On Feb. 22, 2019, Ingrid Andress unveiled her first song as a Warner Music Nashville recording artist, titled “Lady Like,” after years of writing tunes for others. Almost exactly a year later, the song’s name has taken on an even bigger meaning for Andress: Her debut album, Lady Like, arrives on Friday (March 27).
The LP features eight tracks that showcase Andress’ impactful lyricism and turns her own experiences into relatable tales, backed by dynamic melodies driven by her stunning piano playing. Perhaps the prime example is “More Hearts Than Mine,” Andress’ debut single on country radio — which has already put her in the history books — about the emotional process of introducing a partner to your family.
Ahead of the arrival of Lady Like, Andress shared stories behind each of the album’s tracks with Billboard. Whether it’s a song written in a French castle (yes, that’s a real thing) or one inspired by the exhaustion of app-driven dating, Andress has a lot to divulge beyond her affecting lyrics.
Before you dive in to Lady Like Friday, hear from Andress herself about how the album came together.
I know traditionally the first song on an album is supposed to set the vibe for what the entire album will be like, but I decided to change it up a bit. I wanted the tone to be playful at the beginning, because the rest of the songs on the album are deep and emotional. I don’t take myself super seriously, so I wanted people to know that before diving into the real s–t.
We hired a string quartet to play on this song, so I wanted to showcase the intro they played because I thought it sounded like something classic, almost like you’re about to watch a film or start a TV show. The production is very unique and somewhat disarming, so the goal was to make people stop and say, “WTF am I listening to?”
This is the only song on the album that started with a melody instead of a lyric. I normally have a title or a concept before I start diving into the songwriting process, but on the day this song was written, I didn’t have anything, so I just started humming melodies. The producer on this song, Jordan Schmidt, was playing me tracks he had previously prepared for our writing session, and the second I heard this one, I was like, “Stop. That’s the one.”
It didn’t sound uptempo or super energetic, but I’m a sucker for a good 6/8 time signature, and I really liked the melodies I was singing over it. The lyrics came from thinking about what was happening in my life, and my friends had just recently joined Bumble and were getting frustrated with the experience. So I guess this song was inspired by dating apps.
“We’re Not Friends”
I wrote this one with my friends thinking we were going to pitch it to other artists, and then realized I wanted to record it myself a few weeks later. I always write from a personal place, even if I’m writing for someone else, but this one sort of snuck up on me. I guess I didn’t realize we were writing about a situation that had actually happened to me because the entire time we were writing it, I was like, “This is for someone else, but I have so much detail to add to this song because I get it.” It wasn’t until I listened to it a few weeks later that I realized it was actually about my situation and that I should probably sing it.
I think people in my generation grew up thinking that love was a thing that you’d definitely find one day, and that once you found it, it would last forever and ever. And it would be easy once you’re married because you’re just “with that person now.” As an observer and human being, I have found this to be very far from the truth. Love isn’t just this “thing” that stays around after you’ve found it: It will leave if you take it for granted and don’t pay attention to it consistently.
When I wrote this song, I wanted people to know that it’s OK if you’re not super in love with your partner all the time. It’s completely normal to feel like you’ve grown apart because we all change on a daily basis. Most love songs don’t talk about that, so I wanted everyone who feels this way to have a song.
“Anything But Love”
I only know four chords on the guitar, so normally I start songs at the piano because I can record whatever I’m hearing in my head quickly. This song however is mostly guitar, and I remember enjoying just focusing on the lyrics while my friend, Zach Abend, played guitar. I feel like that’s why the song is so poetic, because normally when I sing and play, I want the lyrics to match the rhythmic melodies I’m playing on the piano, so I tend to write differently. That day I actually got to play around with phrasing. I’m still figuring out a way to play this song live, because I don’t plan on being great at guitar anytime soon.
“More Hearts Than Mine”
Whenever I look back on the day I wrote this song, I smile because I think I’ve grown a lot emotionally since then. The concept of the song came to me while I was figuring out if I wanted to introduce the person I was dating to my family or not, because I’m very protective of them. But I felt like it would be such a vulnerable thing to write about, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to expose myself that much.
When I brought the idea to my songwriting friends — Derrick Southerland and Sam Ellis — I told them, “I’m not sure I want to get THAT deep, so maybe we can flip it to where I’m the one breaking more hearts than his?” And Derrick just looked at me and said, “Can you please be vulnerable for, like, two seconds?!” The song basically wrote itself after that. I had so much emotion I wanted to express. It was then that I realized how important it is to be honest when I write.
“Life of the Party”
Believe it or not, I was in the south of France, in a castle, when I wrote this song. ASCAP hosts a songwriting camp every year, so I was lucky enough to be invited. I started drinking red wine at 2:00 p.m. that day, but it was the perfect buzz because the alcoholic content of it was very low for some reason (maybe a French thing?), so I wanted to write a party song. But one thing you’ll learn about me very quickly is that I prefer sad, heartfelt songs, so the “party song” quickly turned into a “sad girl party song.” The only time I really “party” is when I am dealing with something emotionally, so I channeled that energy.
People always ask me if what I talk about in the verse lyrics of this song are true, which is funny to me because I’m like, “Well, yeah, otherwise I wouldn’t have written them.” The whole point of this song is expressing who you are as a person without apologizing for it. It took me a while to fully embrace who I am because everyone is so obsessed with fitting things into boxes, and I never quite fit into any of them. I was homeschooled in a household that didn’t restrict me from doing things because I was a girl.
I never thought I was at a disadvantage until I went to public school and noticed people treated me a certain way because of my gender. Eventually, I got bored of trying to keep up with how I was “supposed” to act because I wasn’t living my life the way I wanted to. This song came from the buildup of all those emotions, and I hope everyone who hears it feels empowered to express theirs as well.