Tonesmith is Al Basile’s second collection of one hundred poems, following 2012’s A Lit House. As in that book he often writes about experiences of his earlier life, often acknowledging the change in perspective brought about by the passing of the years. As Rhina P. Espaillat notes:

These poems include autobiographical rites of passage, regrets and celebrations, personal and family memories, immigrant folklore, travel impressions, encounters with revered musicians and sports figures, and ambiguous lessons learned...The very title of the book identifies the author as a music-maker determined to be heard, and as a poet whose first concern is achieving the tone in which he wants to be heard by the reader. ”