She coos pristinely like Sarah McLachlan over tremolo guitars and elegant backing vocals on the album-opener "Small Things Define." The tile track finds her singing out in clear, bell-like tones over insistent pop-rock grooves a la Sheryl Crow. You could play "spot the influence" like this all day without coming close to answering the question "who is Tess Wiley?" That's because the elements that make up this singer-songwriter's individual vision can't be reduced to simple stylistic reference points.
To discover what's at the heart of RAINY DAY ASSEMBLY, one needs to delve deeply into the lyrics, closely examining the personal quirks and psychosocial observations that they convey. It's these complex messages, and the way they interact with the lush, pop-friendly production, that are what Tess Wiley is all about. All the sonic finery would impress on its own, but coupled with Wiley's sophisticated themes, the whole thing lifts up to another level.