It’s Only The Future
ven though it’s just a printed reproduction, the painting by Zefrey Throwell on the cover of Corrina Repp’s fourth album looks textured enough that if you reached your hand out you’d be able to feel the roughness. But if you do, it’s just the same glossy paper most CD booklets are made out of. Repp’s music operates in a parallel way; her work reaches out and enfolds you in its essential calm and meditative focus, but when you reach out to push back (as it were), you remember it’s just vibration coming from your speakers.
Repp has been singing and playing around Portland for a decade now, and It’s Only The Future has the feel of a record made by someone at ease with and confident in her abilities. With Repp and collaborator Keith Schreiner playing everything here most songs rely on just voice, a little guitar or piano and some spare effects. The opening of one of the densest songs here, “You Almost Made It Out, But You Turned Around,” is vaguely reminiscent of Slowdive’s lost classic Pygmalion, which should give you an idea of the sound here. It’s an approach that could easily backfire, placing the weight squarely on Repp’s vocals and what little backing there is, but both parties acquit themselves well. Even with such spare instrumentation (the record feels, for example, nearly beatless) there’s very little silence when you listen closely. It’s just that in memory what stays with you is the spaciousness and grace of these songs, not necessarily the individual sounds.
While there’s definitely an element of the coffeehouse singer with acoustic in tow running through Repp’s songs, the quietly nocturnal setting they’re placed in recalls everything from the Velvet Underground’s third album and Cat Power’s Covers Record to the aforementioned Pygmalion and Low circa “Laser Beam.” The softly swaying “Replaced” and steady progress of “No One’s Telling” (both highlights) vary the pace a little, but It’s Only The Future is very much of a piece. Unlike the otherwise-similar Chan Marshall, Repp never really raises her voice into the high lonesome cry found on Cat Power’s version of “Wild Is The Wind”; over the softly pealing guitar of “Have + To Hold” Repp almost whispers the lines “what’s the reason / to have and to hold / When you only let go” as if she’s talking to a departing stranger’s back, and that modus operandi holds for the rest of the album.
Unlike most minimalist albums, It’s Only The Future is warm, evoking spring days instead of winter nights. There’s something inviting in the sounds Repp and Schreiner pull together and when the record ends with a tender version of old chestnut “I’ll Be Seeing You,” it’s as if the album is gently ushering you out of the room until your next visit. After a couple of listens, those visits are likely to be often.