erasing clouds

Corrina Repp, It's Only the Future

review by dave heaton

Lately I've been listening to Fifty Years of Artistry, a 5-disc box set of Tony Bennett's work over the last five decades. It's a immense set that only represents a small portion of the massive amount of songs he's recorded over the years - and to me it's a great reminder of how gifted a singer he is, of the way he phrases the words of a song to maximize their emotional impact, while reigning himself in, keeping himself this side of overt theatricality and cheese. The songs he sings are simple, but powerful.

On the surface Tony Bennett and Corrina Repp, a Portland-based singer of low-key pop songs, have little in common, except that they're both singers and both have recorded the standard "I'll Be Seeing You," which Repp uses to end her new album It's Only the Future. But the spirit of their music is related; there's qualities in both that hit me the same way. To be more specific, It's Only the Future is filled with songs with words and music that are simple and economical, but have great emotional power. Her songs are not in the mold of jazz standards (or Motown classics), but they similarly use the most basic elements in a way that's so much deeper than it seems. Simple songs can say a lot, it's as true today as it ever was.

"I'll see you sometime/when the person you thought I was/I'm not anymore"... Repp's lyrics read simply on the page, though they're filled both with honest feeling and a level of mystery. The way she sings them, though, intensifies the emotion, the genuineness and the ambiguity. Her singing isn't showy or eccentric, but measured, careful and quite beautiful. The beauty is heightened on It's Only the Future by the spare, lovely musical arrangements. Repp's instrument of choice is a lone guitar, but here she's collaborating with electronic musician Keith Schreiner. He's added textures to her songs that are amazing in how simply they accentuate the emotions behind them, while also giving the album a sleeker, more futurstic sound.

It's Only the Future is one of those albums were all of the parts come together perfectly. Corrina Repp's powerful songs, her gently penetrating voice and Keith Schreiner's splendidly minimalist accompaniment give the album levels of compassion, depth and grace that are hard to define but also hard to believe. Together they're creating perfect pop songs that sound like they're from the future but feel like they were pulled out of our hearts.


Issue 28, November 2004

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