For Andress, it doesn't get better than this
The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., March 16, 2023
Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Not to mention being a real good singer and songwriter as well.
That all describes the magnificent, doesn't get better than this outing of Ingrid Andress in her Boston headlining debut.
In song after song after song throughout the fast-paced 80 minutes, those attributes defined Andress as the excellent performer that she is were on full display. There were simply no throwaways. No filler material. Each song found Andress fully engaged in presenting the story. It never seemed as if Andress had every move or comment planned out. Decked out in simple black pants and Army boots and a white tank top, Andress was present with both song and (mainly female) audience.
Even in the songs that tended to rock a bit more, Andress' vocals were above the fray of her backing trio. After all, words are important to her.
So was interacting with the audience. Andress often placed the song in context. At the outset, she said the evening would be an "emotional rolller coaster," but she and the crowd already knew that.
For example, before singing "Wishful Drinkin'," Andress said she wrote it and then had to go play kickball (she didn't want to go "because it's not a real sport") with a song that she had been working on. Who's there at the game which she wasn't into, but Sam Hunt. One thing led to another with Hunt, of course, eventually singing on the song.
Of course, he wasn't at The Sinclair with Andress. So, instead, she picked Cassandra Picanco out of the audience to sing with her. Picanco held her own.
In talking about "Things That Haven't Happened Yet," Andress said, "It's about anxiety. I'm glad we can ta about it without it being weird."
Andress often made direct eye contact with the crowd as well, furthering the connection. It wasn't just hand gestures and moving about the stage. During "Blue," the final song of the encore-less show (Andress told the crowd she didn't do them), she went into the floor with guitarist Alex Edwards with the crowd gathered around her. Just the final touch in an excellent night of music.
Throughout the show, Andress let the audience now who she was – "I'm not sure how I feel about marriage," Andress opined at one point – without being self absorbed or egotistical.
Andress underscored that she's been through the ringer with relationships that just didn't work out. She joked at one point that a group of therapists should ring the stage to help out.
This is her life, and she's going to sing about it.
Andress also had the confidence to not save her biggest song – the wonderfully written "More Hearts Than Mine" – for the end. In fact, she offered that and the equally impactful "Lady Like" midway through the set while seated at the keyboards. Andress did not even offer up "The Stranger," one of her singles from her debut disc. The majority of the set was comprised of songs from "Good Person," just out in deluxe version a few wees ago.
It wasn't all a glorious downer song-wise. To wit, the well-done singalong, "Feel Like This."
Andress gained a commercial foothold thanks to her entrée into the country market. But Andress, who to her credit has not totally identified with being country, never played anything even remotely country. She has enjoyed success as a songwriter for others before deciding she wanted to sing her own songs, given that they were personal. So, she offered a take on her (she was a co-writer) fun, simple song, "Boys," with backing vocal help from opener Carter Faith. With lines like "I was busy thinkin' 'bout boys, boys, boys," the subject matter was a welcome contrast to most of the rest of the songs.
Bottom line. Andress was truly the complete package while keeping it very real. Performances do not get much better than this.
Faith opened the show with a set in contrasts. When she went into high gear vocally, belting the songs out, the North Carolina native was at her best. When she didn't, she sounded a bit off vocally. Faith seemed to focus on cowboys and "crazy" with three songs apiece about both. She had some good material, closing with effective "Greener Pastures." Faith, who has a record out later this year, is a work in progress.
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