Recommended If You Like: Carly Rae Jepsen, Ellie Goulding, Katy Perry, CAPPA
Call her pop, electronic, singer/songwriter, whatever – Las Vegas artist Amy Guess has a knack for crafting shimmering, catchy singles soaked in synths and dripping with emotion. Her debut EP, Ten Times Out of Ten, balances the percussive drive of ’80s-era dance pop with the bombastic crests and troughs of modern electro-pop. The result is a boldly explosive, intimate and undeniably convincing journey through Amy Guess’ tumultuous love life.
While “pop music” may have a bad reputation for its assembly line-like production – where singers, producers and songwriters often exist as different spokes on the industrial wheel – the same cannot be said of the “indie pop” world. When Amy Guess fills the room with her incredible voice, her words are her own; her artistic voice is hers alone. It is this authenticity that allows listeners to sink deep into the artist’s world and embrace her experiences and feelings for what they are – real.
Listen: Ten Times Out of Ten [EP] – Amy Guess
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Ten Times Out of Ten, Amy Guess’ debut EP (independently released February 20, 2017). The artist’s ability to vividly capture a moment shines on this immersive foray into the electro-pop realm, where Guess’ evocative voice is as much a malleable instrument as it is the heart and driving force of each song.
Reminiscent of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion and Katy Perry’s Prism, Ten Times Out of Ten is categorically a pop record. Produced by Grammy-nominated and Dove Award winning producer/songwriter Rusty Varenkamp, the EP’s high energy and emotional volatility is palpable right from the start. Title track “10 Times Out of 10” sets the scene, introducing listeners to Amy Guess’ sound as well as her trials and tribulations of love:
I never thought I’d be
the one to believe
something I couldn’t see
but you got a hold my heart
like a burning star
I fell into your arms
We’ve been up and down but we’ve always found a way
When the lights go out I know we won’t be afraid
So many nights that I thought we’d never make it
So many times that we held on without breaking
Falling hard, falling fast
Think we saved the best for last
If I had to do it all over again
It’s you, ten times out of ten
Guess relates the rocky road of romance: The ups and downs, the unending surprises, and more. She hooks us in with that entrance – “I never thought I’d be the one to believe something I couldn’t see,” she says of love. Yet here she is, succumbing to her heart’s will. Original yet familiar in its instant memorability, “10 Times Out of 10” is a shining star – the perfect way to kick off a debut EP.
Watch: “10 Times Out of 10” – Amy Guess
“This EP has been a journey for me,” relates Guess. “These songs are an extension of the road I’ve been on and what got me here. You have to push through what is hard and frightening for what you love… the pay off that comes after difficult paths is always worth the road there, and you’ll be proud of who you become along the way.” The hardest moments are the ones that define us the most. Guess immortalizes those milestones through her songs, relating the bad times and how they made the good that much better.
Didn’t feel it start
But it left a scar
Cause our love was deep
Fell for you like rain
Who else could I blame
Cause you made me weak
Did you know
Your taste was bittersweet
Can’t let go
Of how it used to be
“Think of Me” is mesmerizing in its blend of personal lyrics and electronic music. EDM is not praised for its depth of character, but as “genre” becomes an increasingly antiquated term, the once-cold drops of an oscillating synthesizer feel warmer and warmer. When Guess lets loose in the song’s chorus, her wailing cry is intensified by powerful waves and brisk hits. Such anthemic grace would make Ellie Goulding proud.
Varenkamp’s production techniques are heavy, but ultimately successful in bringing out the best in Guess: “Working with Rusty Varenkamp on this project was ideal! I’m very grateful to have met and worked with someone I truly respect and have such a strong creative chemistry with. He’s a talented beast – the sound turned out amazing.”
Wherever you look, expressive words meet with equally expressive, often explosive music. On “Comatose,” Guess can’t help but succumb to her emotions; that push-and-pull between wanting someone and knowing he or she is bad for you finds a proper home in slow, pulsing beats and impassioned, flavorful keyboard licks. On “Without You,” Guess dives headfirst into love – “All the stars are aligned, I’m not leaving with you,” she proclaims. Whether you’re in love, you’re looking for love, you’re freshly out of love, or you’re happily content with what you’ve got, Ten Times Out of Ten has a moment for you.
On dreamy closer “Like I Do You,” Guess laments to her lover, “But you’ll never love me like, like I do you.” She’s fully embedded in the feeling now, having come a long way from not believing in something she couldn’t see. Baring everything, “Like I Do You” is Amy Guess at her darkest and most vulnerable:
I’m sick of the way
I’ve been sick over you
I’m caught in a loop
She doesn’t need to say too much in order to say exactly how she feels. Direct and heavy, these moments aren’t the kind to resolve easily – but is it not our pain that makes us feel alive?
If this is real I want you to want it
I’m afraid I’ll slowly disappear
Am I a fool
to fall for you
It’s so addictive
Amy Guess trips over love’s entangling snares time and again, only to end up completely entrenched in heartfelt emotion. Ten Times Out of Ten is as much a pure expression of the self as it is a conscious delivery to the world: “I hope people listen in their cars, with the ones they love; I hope it connects with them, makes them feel and reminds them there’s someone out there feeling the same things.” However individuals end up connecting, Amy Guess has left a lasting imprint that is as relatable as it is honest and accessible.
Quality, convincing pop music is hard to make, yet Amy Guess has managed to deliver a remarkable first impression. With bright blue hair and piercing eyes, Guess is a face to remember, but her impassioned howls and lush melodies are even easier to recall. Enchanting and seductive, Amy Guess delivers breathtaking anthemic pop on a surprisingly cohesive debut that suggests it’s only a matter of time until the Las Vegas native sets foot on the world’s stage. Ten Times Out Ten, we would pick Amy Guess.
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cover: Amy Guess © Brian Ziff