Dorian Gray would have been jealous! Looking at Tess Wiley, one can be happy about growing older over the years, also about the less pleasant days and all the experience that one can gain from them.
In the recent past, there have been many lovely moments in the life of Tess Wiley. Whether the successful releases “Rainy Day Assembly” (2001, Effanel Music), “Not Quite Me” (2004, Tapete Records) and “Superfast Rock n' Roll Played Slow (2007, Tapete Records), the big move from the USA to the modest Giessen for the sake of love or the birth of her two sons. Yet it's especially the difficult moments that make her latest album “Little Secrets” so strong.
It turns out that love didn't last a lifetime, and the once Austinite/Seattleite/San Franciscan/New Yorker remained in the small German town alone.
The way that Tess Wiley processes her experiences in her music is in a league of its own, and maybe it's the ideal connection of grunge, Americana and pop. On “Little Secrets” are songs that are adorned with tremendous intimacy and authenticity that is only thinly-veiled. Upon close listening to Tess Wiley's lyrics, her vulnerability is apparent, her honest candor tangible. Similar to one source of her inspiration Jeff Buckley, Tess Wiley presents herself with great strength and intensity while at the same time baring her soul.
“You go on & on and never think to look ahead”, sings Tess Wiley in the haunting “It Rained”. In “Tornados”, she begins with “Well, there are some things in my life that come easy to me, like falling down and messing up everything I see”, before the song blooms into a pristine radio number that entered the top 200 airplay charts and enjoyed daily rotation on NDR2 last year. Seldom can one find a lighthearted pop song so full of truth and depth!
The new single “Little Secrets” will certainly be a similar success since it also underlines Tess Wiley's strengths: beautifully arranged pop songwriting paired with poignant lyrics.
The album and its songs offer much more, of course: a tea crate used in lieu of drums, soaring guitar solos, screaming organ, heavenly harmonies as well as perfectly placed horn parts in “Hestia” and “Sticks and Stones” by father and Grammy Award winner Fletch Wiley. In this way, the latter comes across as a delightful mix of Beirut and Beck. Where Tess Wiley got the ballsy guitar from that she played on “Rescue Me” we can discuss next time: she also has a metal and grunge history, yet the length of this text is limited.
“Little Secrets” is a multi-layered Americana pop album that will surprise and amaze fans of the genre. In December, Tess Wiley will extensively tour solo the German-speaking areas of Europe. Go listen, fall in love and pass it on!