On the Inside
Armed with about 60 original songs and a few new arrangements of older tunes, Tonya Betz narrowed down the list to 11 very diverse tracks. For her debut album, On The Inside, Tonya brought in a few friends to help out on bass, drums, electric guitar, violin, and piano. Each musician (ranging in age from 19 to 42) brought his or her own influences to create an eclectic mix. The album begins with an acoustic song, 'Who Am I,' laced with sparse percussion and melodic solos by guitarist Michael Moore. Next up is easily the most pop/commercially accessible tune on the album, 'Hold Me Now.' Moore's 80s pop electric guitar makes this song soar. The contemplative title track is bare-bones acoustic guitar with a somber violin that brings out Tonya's best emotional quiver. This track is mixed virtually dry and, in the mind's eye, one can imagine this young singer/songwriter alone with just her guitar, the reality of life standing in stark contrast to the world around us. And just when you think you're in relax mode, Moore brings out his snarliest Les Paul sound for 'In the Darkest Night,' while Tonya sounds darn close to Grace Slick. Then it's time for a bit of the 'celtic blues.' The 6/4 'Heart of Paul' has Moore pulling out warm blues licks on his Strat while Tonya keeps the celtic-like pulse going on her acoustic. Perhaps the most powerful song of the set is 'I'll Forgive You,' reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. Moore plays one of his best solos in this dark and moody song. One of the biggest departures on the album is 'Shelter.' Moore plays a Strat rhythm part that recalls Hendrix' work on 'Wind Cries Mary' or 'Castles Made of Sand.' But interspersed with that is Joy Russell's piano and Carol Berubee's brush work on the drums, setting this song apart as more of a jazz-tinged power ballad. Tonya's vocal is as silky warm as you'll find.