Laura Repo wishes she were more than Just a Friend in her charming new self-made video — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
The latest rootsy single from the Toronto singer-songwriter’s recently released fourth album This is My Room, Just a Friend blends wistful lyrics and south-of-the-border horns into an endearing tale of romantic pining that will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever been trapped in the friend zone. The video that complements it is just as enchanting: A single shot of a lone, deadpan baton twirler going through the motions in her backyard, filmed by Repo on her iPhone.
Repo explains how it all came together: “The instant I heard the newly recorded tune, I knew it needed a video with a baton twirler. I did a search for baton twirlers and eventually found Sheryl Baraniuk, director of The Etobicoke Spectrum Baton Club. I said I was looking for a middle-aged woman to twirl a baton to my song; she said she was over 40. Then it took another six months to finally meet her and do some test shots. I thought I’d have to come back with a pro to shoot the final video and possibly find a better location — which I did arrange. Little did I know, the first time she walked through the song would be the best take. All I had to do was sit and hold my iPhone with her in front of her garage. We did come back the following week, but nothing we shot matched the magic of that first take. It totally had the right vibe for the lyrics. The way the video came together was not unlike the way we recorded many of the tunes on the album.”
Indeed, This Is My Room stakes a claim to space devoted to creativity. Following a long wait after 2011’s critically acclaimed Get Yourself Home, the album sees Repo exploring new musical avenues with producer Tino Zolfo, someone she met at their local coffee shop and recorded demos with back in 2009. Little did either of them know those demos would lead to a full-length album almost 10 years later.
In the summer of 2017, Repo and Zolfo began recording This Is My Room in Toronto, along with drummer Lyle Molzan, who was encouraged by Zolfo to follow Repo’s “broken wheel” guitar playing, which became the basis for the groove. Zolfo filled in the bass, and encouraged Repo to play bass on a few tracks for the first time (she plays on Johnny Finn and Wednesday). Repo says the vocals, which are lower, more cool and conversational, weren’t about perfection. They were about feel and serving the song. “Many of my vocals were recorded in one take, as if the songs had a mind of their own,” Repo says.
The result is Repo’s most upbeat, poppy, eclectic album to date, with big funky horns, arranged by Zolfo, and played by Rebecca Hennessy (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Tom Richards (trombone) on songs like gorgeously breezy instant classic Just a Friend and the rhythmic, sparsely bombastic Power Of The Night. Elsewhere, the new album is bassy and psychedelic, as on opener Country Girl, which is an homage to Everdale Place, where Repo went to school (her father taught there and was one of the school’s founders). She also visits a zydeco party for Too Soon To Miss You with Tania Gill on accordion, reimagines girl group songs on Johnny Finn, visits Montreal on a down-tempo Wednesday, and arranges feelings while sorting out the house on Perspective.