Singer Nina Ferraro, who records under the name Bonzie, has shown a consistent refusal to be pinned down to a genre or simplified descriptions of the kind of music she makes. In her brief career, she has experimented with different approaches to songwriting, arranging and recording, working with a range of collaborators from dissimilar backgrounds, including noise-rock maestro Steve Albini, indie folk duo the Milk Carton Kids and Portishead’s Adrian Utley.
On Bonzie’s second album, “Zone on Nine” (Beevine), she once again skirts categorization. She writes all the music and co-produces with Jonathan Wilson (who has worked with Father John Misty and Conor Oberst) and Ali Chant (Perfume Genius). Her collaborators include Utley, which speaks to the ambition of an album that embraces the art-pop leanings of artists and bands such as Portishead, St. Vincent or Kate Bush. Acoustic guitar and voice shape its modest core. Most of these songs would work in a more conventional singer-songwriter context, but Bonzie gives them a much wider scope.
The album starts off unassuming and low-fi, almost a bedroom-style recording with just voice and guitar that sidesteps into something more opaque, toggling between passages of abrasion and dreaminess. “You like to pretend/ at arm’s length/ but when that line bends/ do you like it then?” she sings on “Crescent.” The song’s cannily structured but it’s anything but conventional, sprinting to the precipice of scream before receding to its low-fi beginnings.
And how exactly to describe the penultimate “Mica Mori”? It’s a pensive swirl, a fog from which a wave emerges and then swallows up everything in its path, spread over seven minutes.
The songs are as fluid as the narrator’s conflicted emotions, and the album’s sharp sequencing underlines the contrasts. The gossamer “If I Could Reach You” peers out from a child’s music box with bell-like tones and purring guitars, and “Combback” alludes to…