JJ Wilde – Ruthless (Album Review)

While JJ Wilde might not be a household name yet, sooner than later, she will be. Out of Ontario, Canada, Wilde is a singer-songwriter with a working class attitude who is not afraid to get her hands dirty. Trying herself in music for many years, in her late twenties she was working three jobs to make ends meet before asking herself an important question – “Okay, it’s time to decide. Can I have this just be a hobby? Will I be happy doing that?” The answer was no. Facing that reality head on, she went all in, struck the interest of BMG Rights Management, and released her debut EP Wilde Eyes, Steady Hands in 2019. Also finding herself on the road with the likes of artists such as Jimmy Eat World, The Struts, Incubus, Glorious Sons, The Blue Stones, and Rival Sons, Wilde had finally seen her persistence pay off.

A little under a year later, Wilde takes the next step with her debut full-length album Ruthless. Out on Friday, June 12th, 2020 via Black Box Recordings Inc., Ruthless is a product of various writing sessions Wilde partook in during her first trip ever out to LA to record Wilde Eyes, Steady Hands. Hand picking the best of the sessions with her producer, Frederik Thaae, to make the EP, now those songs find themselves sprinkled amidst others for Ruthless. An album consisting of 11 songs, as stated, you have the 4 pieces from the EP (“The Rush,” “Wired,” “Gave It All,” “State Of Mind”), 4 more recently released singles (“Home,” “Trouble Funeral For A Lover,” “Cold Shoulder”), plus 3 fresh cuts (“Knees,” “Breakfast In Bed,” “Feelings”). 

Now, some might not exactly know who JJ Wilde is just yet, and that is alright, but it is time you learn. Given a little glimpse in her backstory, musically, Wilde is a soulful Rock singer with a ting of Folk and Blues. Her sound is unique and her voice will make the hairs on your neck stand up. For reference, think Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, Dorothy Martin of Dorothy, or Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless. It is not to say Wilde sounds like these other ladies, but she has a similar rawness that makes her music sound extremely sincere and powerful. 

These images drawn out, let us now get into the meat of Ruthless, which kicks off with Wilde immediately striking hard vocally on “Knees.” This is followed by “The Rush,” a single featured on last years EP which has sustained a #1 position in Canada four straight weeks. Fitting in like a puzzle piece, the chant along “Wired” comes next before the more refined, yet honest “Breakfast In Bed,” Folk-influenced “Gave It All,” and thoughtful “State Of Mind.”  

Moving right along, without a lagging moment, next is the single “Home” with a twangy, gritty vibe that still is Pop enough to strike the ear of a broad audience. Which leads us to the highlight of highlights, “Funeral For A Lover,” the deceive factor that will make new listeners true believers of Wilde. A heartache of a real to life story, a lone piano and Wilde’s voice dress the track for a stunning song that is both vulnerable and breathtaking. That said, it is also a must to check out the music video for the track to experience the incredible passion in Wilde’s face matching the words flawless. 

At this point in the album, who and what JJ Wilde is comes vividly into focus. There is no discrepancies in what she is going for or what she wants to be. She is a singer-songwriter with a voice of gold that has just enough grit and dirt to make you yearn to hear more. The icing on the cake is the latest single “Cold Shoulder,” anthemic “Trouble,” and the ear-tingling, subtle closer “Feeling”… just in case you needed any further convincing. The music world needs more artists like JJ Wilde, because there is just no substitute for the real thing. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Ruthless 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

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