The short version: “More Hearts Than Mine” is one of the most well-executed songs I’ve heard in mainstream country in quite some time.
- Writers: Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis, Derrick Southerland
- Rating: 8/10
The long version: If fellow mainstream country artists should take anything away from this song, it’s a note on how specific lyrical content will always connect with an audience more than generic drivel.
As for the personality behind the microphone of said song, Ingrid Andress is certainly qualified to be a singer. Along with a stint that included two seasons on The Sing-Off as part of an acapella group, she’s earned a degree from the Berklee College of Music and a 2016 Grand Prize victory in an “Unsigned Only Music Competition.”
As such, it’s no surprise she found her way to Warner Music Nashville last year. However, as is a common case in mainstream country music when it comes to female artists, Andress’s debut single, “Ladylike,” made no impact whatsoever on the charts (I’ll admit it slipped my radar as well). Hopefully there’s no sophomore slump when it comes to Andress, however, as her new single, “More Hearts Than Mine” is a genuinely compelling single.
What I like most about this song is that it offers something many mainstream country singles these days lack – detail. This song is a literal tour of one’s hometown offered to her spouse as she brings him back home to meet her family. The song’s main point is to show that, should they break up, it won’t just affect her, but also the family members this spouse will eventually come to know. As intimidating of a premise as it might seem from that small description, it’s the execution where the song ultimately succeeds.
In a nutshell, the characters here have warmth and depth to them, and it creates a song that’s easy to connect with. In other words, whereas most mainstream country singles paint broad sketches to try and establish the same level of depth, when you actually paint a real picture of a scenario, it will always be more gripping. The pictures of meeting a sister who will do anything to embarrass Andress or meeting a father who will pretend to not like this guy when he meets him are relatable, and it paints an overall well-woven story of an actual mature relationship.
Plus, the perspective matters here. Given that this song speaks to the potential hurt one will cause to so many in the event of a breakup beyond just their significant other, it would have been easy to play this in the lane of the aftermath of it all to show the actual effects of that. But I like that it keeps it grounded in the present to better paint a warmer sentiment and introduce a cast of characters we can actually appreciate and care about.
After several paragraphs on just the lyrical content, let’s move on to another department. A fellow critic noted how Andress sounds similar to Maren Morris, and yeah, it’s hard to ignore that, especially with some of the more pop-oriented inflections. Despite that, I’d argue Andress offers more depth as an emotional interpreter, and while this song doesn’t test her technical abilities all that much, I’m definitely impressed with her performance here.
The production and instrumentation have a bit of a slow burn quality to them. The song starts with some very muted piano before gaining steam with some well-mixed atmospheric pedal steel, soft drums, hints of dobro and low-end electric guitars to create a mix as rich as its story. On one hand, it gains great momentum as it goes along, but if I had any criticisms here, it’s that it takes a bit too long to establish that connection and starts off rather sleepy.
Still, while I’ve found several mainstream country singles to like this year (along with several I don’t), this joins the rare rank to blow me away in the same way that, say, Ashley McBryde’s “Girl Going Nowhere” did. The writing is incredibly sharp, the production supports the story with nuance and richness, and Andress turns in a suitable performance. Country radio, please don’t screw this up.