I would have never have guessed that Tough Guise was made up of one person named Jess Wilton while listening to the self-titled album Tough Guise. The retro sounding rock album sounds like a band that was recorded live in a room. On top of that Wilton also recorded, mixed and mastered the songs. The recording is a little shy of what you would expect from a professional studio but nonetheless not bad.
There is little not to like or appreciate about Tough Guise. The songs are well written and Wilton has an original sounding voice premade for rock and the guitar riffs are pretty badass.
The first track “I Don't Wanna Save The World” contains a good amount of attitude. There is an essence of Pretenders and even Patti Smith within this song. The song comes at you with a fuzzed out bass guitar and a driving beat. Wilton’s anti-hero lyrics are exactly what rock needs in this day and age.
“New Year’s Resolutions” is one of the highlights amongst the thirteen songs. It’s a straightforward no frills rock song with infectious, memorable vocal melodies. The song has more in common with post-punk than modern day mainstream rock.
Wilton continues to be consistent with the songs as the album progresses. “Letting Things Be” is a fast paced, energetic tune while “Arguing Opinions” showcases a cathartic vocal performance. “Chasing A Ghost Through New York City” is another fast-paced song that plays into Wilton’s strengths.
Overall, Tough Guise is far from perfect but thoroughly enjoyable. I think the next logical step for Wilton would be to try and get to the next level in terms of recording quality. There were a number of issues like varying song volumes and buried elements that if taken care of could make her competitive with more established bands. Recommended.
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