The sometimes twangy, sometimes driving guitar strumming of Bonzie comes from just one woman, Nina Ferraro. It has perhaps become almost perfunctory to mention that she is only 17 years old, but that detail carries weight. In crafting such a musically diverse, yet subtle album like Rift Into the Secret of Things, Ferraro has certainly outshone many artists who have had years of a head start.
The album kicks off with the rhythmic strumming of “Data Blockers,” a lead track in a six-minute binary form. The song is marked by Ferraro’s airy voice and some helpful “ah-ah’s” that allow it to build up to the heavy percussion hits that demarcate the two parts. The second half is comprised of electric sprinklings around more “oh’s” and “ah’s” before it fades as expertly as it built.
Bonzie often weaves a mature, insightful sentiment among music that sounds as if Aimee Mann was inducted into The Decemberists. “Felix” is a delicate lament that includes the line, “Oh Felix we’ve come so far/but we haven’t moved an inch,” which has a profound impact while remaining true to form for someone who has yet to get past high school. Ferraro hits the listener with even more wisdom-beyond-her-years knowledge in the gentle waltz of “Routine,” where she points out that seemingly steady everyday life can often leave us with more questions than answers.
Rift isn’t all dour introspection. Ferraro injects an attitude fitting of Hayley Williams into the verses of songs like “Catch and Release” while still spinning it into a beautifully flowing chorus. “Catholic High School” is another attempt at something a little more edgy, but it might be the album’s only true “miss.” While I can respect a certain distrust of people, the song comes off as mostly whiny and, at times, incoherent. Specifically the line, “I don’t trust doctors, they’re just people” falls particularly flat (as does her suspicion of babies).
The album has a wonderful ebb and flow both within tracks and throughout the programming of the record. Almost every song has a major impact or unexpected harmonic turn that intrigues the listener. Additionally, some of the vocal melodies are overwhelmingly intoxicating, such as that in “Convert.” Ferraro’s precocious songwriting talents ensure a promising future and will certainly make us remember her name, so move over Bonzi Wells.