With their latest release, Compromise, Tonella has returned “arena rock” to Canada. Listening to this album brought me back to a time when bands like Heart, Triumph, Rush and Loverboy were atop the Canadian music charts. To my ear, Tonella fits nicely along with those bands.
Tonella is Tonella Roy ( Vocals and Piano), Jason Sonier (Drums), Camilo Villamizar (Guitar) and Josh Blaquiere Bringloe (Bass). Roy, who was nominated for an East Coast Music Award with her former band Holophonic Porno, has a strong and versatile voice that shines on this 5-song ep. Don’t be surprised if there is another ECMA nomination in her future.
Although there is a big sound to Tonella, Roy’s songwriting comes straight from the heart. Listening to the lyrics, it seems that these songs were written from a place of hurt.
The opening song “Never Coming Back Again” is a great mix of soft and loud, both in terms of vocals and instruments. The song starts with a lovely piano introduction and is soon joined by Roy’s soft voice. Early on, however she sings “cover your mouth when you tell a lie, so I can have the upper hand this time” and by the time she sings the words “the upper hand”, Roy is almost spitting them out as Villamizar’s guitar kicks in. This back and forth continues throughout the song and is a great listen.
The album’s signature song, and first single, is “Compromise”. If you only listen to one Tonella song, make it this one. There is some fine instrumentation here, especially the drumming, and Roy again brings a stellar vocal performance.
Tonella slows thing down on the third song: “Foolish Heart”. Often when I listen to an album, I visualize how a song will play out in concert. For “Foolish Heart”, I picture a time in the concert when the band leaves the stage and Roy is left alone – sitting at the piano. Spotlight shines as she dazzles the crowd. You’ve seen it before, and it is always a nice break to show the versatility in the band.
The music doesn’t stay soft and slow for long as the next song, “Tell Tale Lie”, kicks things back into high gear with the hardest hitting song on the album.
The emotion, vulnerability and hurt displayed on this album is never more evident that in the last song “The Separation”. On this song, Roy sings:
All these tricks were done to keep me from realizing,
That my heart bleeds silently on the floor, there beside me
Paper cuts too small to notice, passing hours
It is a fitting ending to an emotional, but hard-hitting, album.
1. Never Coming Back Again
3. Foolish Heart
4. Tell Tale Lie
5. The Separation
Tonella heads back on tour in April. If they are in your area, be sure to check them out: