Ingrid Gerdes kicks off Shed, her second album, with “Your Boyfriend,” a track that distills decades of American pop into a burst of playful energy. It delivers an empowered message with a fun, cheeky vibe.
The opening keyboard hook sounds like the Motown studio band playing a tango, with a swinging, sultry groove. When Gerdes asks: “Guess where your boyfriend was last night?” you know you’re in for a wild ride. “I want people to feel the emotion I put into a song,” Gerdes explains. “I put together arrangements that incorporate ideas from all the music I love: blues, soul, Motown, R&B, reggae, pop and classical music.”
It’s that combination of fun and sincerity that makes the songs on Shed resonate with listeners. Several tracks on the album have already been licensed to retail giants Gilly Hicks, a division of Abercrombie and Fitch, and Arden B, for national airplay on their in-store radio stations. Songs from the album will also be heard on Showtime’s The L Word and the MTV pro- grams Teen Wolf, The Hard Times of RJ Berger, Moving In and The World of Jenks.
Produced and arranged by Gerdes, Shed sounds like a Greatest Hits collection. Echoes of the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s drift through the mix, but Gerdes gives them a contemporary spin to create something that’s all her own. Funk, swing and R&B collide in “Move,” another tune with a sly, tempestuous mood. Gerdes serves up an exuberant lead vocal and supplies the 40s jazz pop—influenced backing vocals as well. An acoustic piano plays stuttering 50s R&B triplets, while the horns blow like a Memphis hurricane. “Trying to Remember” uses a slinky clavinet line to pull you into a Bill Withers flavored ballad. On the verses, Gerdes plays with the lyric, showing off her soulful phrasing, then amps things up on the chorus to accentuate the song’s drama. She delivers a slow, simmering kiss off to a no good lover on the title track, “Shed.”
Gerdes is also a fine blues singer. She gives “His Game,” a gritty no nonsense reading, accented by high gospel drenched trills, while “Better Off” is a Motown/Stax hybrid with a powerful backbeat, and great MuscleShoals backing vocals.
An impressive singer with a soulful style that leaves an indelible impression from the first note, Gerdes is also a first class songwriter and inventive arranger and producer. Her first album, The Eclectic Collection, was cut after graduating Boston’s Berklee School of Music. The album lived up to its title with a diverse sonic palette, held together by her exceptional vocals, and earned Gerdes Boston’s Best Local Band hon- ors in AOL’s 2009 City Search.
A native of Springfield, Missouri, Gerdes was influenced by her parents’ love of blues and soul music. “My Mom would sing Frankie and Johnny to me at bedtime — so inappropriate for children,” she laughs. A trained pianist, Gerdes became an accomplished opera singer at the same time she was honing her skills as a powerful R&B performer. Meanwhile, her forays into acting yielded several “Best Actress” nods as well as starring in an Emmy winning commercial.
The success of her self-produced debut, The Eclectic Collection, led to the more polished sound of Shed. She recently completed a video for the album’s title track with director Vassili Shields (Jada). “We shot it on location on the Turks and Caicos islands,” she said. “We worked from sunup to sundown. It was a whirlwind day and a wonderful experience.” Gerdes is currently promoting Shed to blues and college radio and is preparing for an extensive east coast tour that will hit the road in October.