Review: Bonzie – Rift Into The Secret Of Things

15 Aug

Bonzie

Hailing from Chicago, 18 year old singer-songwriter Nina Ferraro, aka Bonzie, is possibly not a name you are that familiar with just yet, but she is another on an increasingly long line of teenage artists making a name for themselves right now. Having dabbled in the poptacular in her early teens, her sound has since developed and matured into something deeper, richer and full bodied. Now, on her debut album Rift Into The Secret Of Things she is making music that bellies her youth, that swirls and stirs emotions and demonstrates Nina’s ability to both connect with, and disconnect from, her teenage peers.

She writes with refreshing honesty and understanding of the world in which she lives and packages it up in little bundles of heartfelt and engaging, and slightly folky, indie-pop. “Catch Release” manages to perfectly encapsulate that internal battle of knowing what you should do, what the right course of action is, against the compulsion to do the complete opposite. “I wanna hold back/but I wanna let go” she sings as the track rattles along, sounding all bouncy, happy and sing-along-friendly.

It’s one of the rarer up-tempo moments on the album, with the likes of “Convert”, “Routine” and “Felix” showing a much more subdued and wistful hue. “Convert” in particular may well be the standout track, with hushed, mist like tones settled softly on the light and intricate guitar arrangement. Momentary flashes of drama seek to impose themselves in an almost balletic fashion before subsiding and leaving just the calm and the mist.

“Felix”, which features The Milk Carton Kids’ Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale (Joey shares the vocal and Kenneth plays lead guitar), is like a sealed bottle of emotion just waiting to be opened. Album closer, “Daniel and the Great Solstice”, feels quite spiritual in sound to begin with, drawing from Gaia with gentle, mystic chanting that eventually gives way to a more traditional folk-pop finish.

There is an elephant in this otherwise beautifully crafted room however, and it’s “Catholic High School”; a track seemingly out of step with its brothers and sisters on Rift….

You could argue that it is allegorical of the confusion and contradiction experienced by adolescents as they grow up and become their own people, forming their own opinions and beliefs and struggling to find independence and their place in the world. It doesn’t quite feel that way though and it plays more like a petulant child spouting ill conceived views on the world. It’s much more raw than the other tracks and the sparseness of the sound is, perhaps deliberately, at odds with the rest of the album with its deep and subtle arrangements.

This sense may simply be due to a disconnect between the teenage artist and this little-past-teenage reviewer, for example others have remarked that it is their personal favourite track. Given the maturity and confidence in which the remainder of the album is delivered, we are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and view it more as a satire on the self-righteousness of youth and unquenchable belief some kids have that their view is the right view, no matter how much evidence points to the contrary. It’s bloody catchy too and does get better with repeated listens.

Another reason to believe that there is more to “Catholic High School” than is evident at face-value is that Bonzie is clearly intelligent and thoughtful. As well as the considered and thoughtful lyrics, the album’s title is also meaningful. It was inspired by a passage in one of her favourite books, Thoreau’s Walden, as she explains; “It’s about how to get to the essence, to put aside intellect or logic in order to reach the truth, or whatever the essence of a thing is”. Essentially exactly what she is attempting to convey with her songwriting.

That an 18 year old should attempt such an emotive and mature form of lyrical communication, and succeed, and do so in an often beautiful and heartfelt musical style, is quite remarkable and well worth seeking out.

’Rift Into The Secret Of Things’ is out now and available to buy from iTunes.


Stalk Bonzie: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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One Response to “Review: Bonzie – Rift Into The Secret Of Things”

  1. Name not supplied November 1, 2013 at 10:24 #

    Yeah, I didn’t get catholic high school either!

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