Album Reviews

Ingrid Gerdes – High Priestess

Artist:     Ingrid Gerdes

Album:     High Priestess

Label:     Self-released

Release Date:     09/02/2014

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The advance read, “Boston soul singer’s gospel-meets-R&B voice has earned her more than one comparison to greats…” Midway through the album I felt like I was listening to an Aretha-like Muscle Shoals record.  Transplanted Bostonian Ingrid Gerdes credits her growing up in the Ozarks of Missouri for her southern tendencies.  She’s already traversed much musical ground considering this is only her second album, having studied opera at the University of Kansas before earning her degree at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.   She’s explored classical and popular music, received actress awards and a regional Emmy but seems perfectly comfortable in this mostly vintage southern soul setting, using her nearly four octave range voice to front a full array of horns and background singers.  Her well-credentialed core band features Duke Robillard’s rhythm section, guitarist Milt Reder, and keyboardist Aaron Lipp.

The album begins with the swampy title track, a roof-raising vocal tour de force on “Fire”, odes to her past on “Missouri Limestone” and “Lindenlure” before kicking into that Muscle Shoals kind of groove on “Someone Else’s Problem” and mostly throughout the rest of album.   Gerdes wrote all the material, self-produced the record, and does it all in her fiercely independent way.  “I don’t really know what neo-soul is,” she confesses.  “I don’t think anybody does. It’s just one of those genres they throw people into who they can’t really fit into other genres.”  While Gerdes has been compared to icons like Irma Thomas and Mavis Staples,she would eschew such references.  “I reject the idea that I must only express myself musically in one style.  I love the artistic freedom of working in many genres.”  Gerdes is by turns fiery, sultry, bluesy, and funky.  Listen up – her vocal potency and range will move you.

– Jim Hynes

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