“What if I have got more love than I know what to do with?” Inge Chiles aka ings asks on ‘Kiss Your Heroes’. And the Seattle-based artist does appear to possess a deeper reservoir of love than most; for herself, for her friends, for her community, for humans at large. Indeed, ings even taps this well for strangers; couples can commission her to write songs for them and many have – Diana & Ian, Steven & Laura, Eli & Ashlee.
On her debut album ‘Lullaby Rock’, ings endeavours to spread her immense compassion even further. “Lullaby Rock is intended to be musical software to facilitate healthy states of acceptance, processing, and striving” she says. It’s an attempt to make humans understand their worth, understand their importance, understand the positive impact their presence has on others.
It’s replete with lines that could’ve been pulled straight from a self-help book – “Show some kindness to yourself / you’re the only one who can”, “Don’t pretend to anyone / don’t pretend for anyone”. The record contains a bona fide meditation, one where ings invites us to locate the positive feelings with which we regard a friend and then realise they share the same feelings for us.
The track that follows this meditation, ‘Amelia’ is ‘a platonic love song for a friend, because friends deserve more love songs, don’t you think?’ It ends with ings unashamedly admitting, “Oh my god, I’m gonna miss you, I’m gonna miss you”. The instrumentation on Lullaby Rock is largely minimal, ings’ calm and cool vocal accompanied by the fingerpicks of her electric guitar and occasional embellishments of violin, flute and choral backing vocals. ‘Pick Yourself Up’ is the only song that diverges from this formula. It has an Alabama Shakes-like stomp to it, the toms striding forward with purpose, the bass chugging in response and the persistent hi-hats resembling an orchestrated hand-clap. The chorus, “Pick yourself up to / because somebody’s got to / carry this heart” is sung like a military cadence – ings leads the chant, but she wants you to sing it right back at her until you believe it yourself.
Lullaby Rock closes with ‘Chex Mix’. It opens with ings detailing her definition of self-care, “Chex Mix for breakfast / listen to queen bitch twice” – it’s no wonder ings lists a Bowie track among her favourite remedies, she celebrated her school graduation by performing ‘Space Oddity’ in a red spandex jumpsuit. ings saves her best piece of advice to last, departing with one final shred of wisdom that helps us realise that though life is odd and punishing, it’s worth sticking with. “Life is an experiment / best to keep on going”.