What does Sainte Lucie sound like?
French folk singer placing her vocals in 90% of the instrument positions.
The review Sainte Lucie – Mercie
French chanteuse Sainte Lucie has been recording music anonymously since she was 16 and upon being discovered by the French label La Souterraine, Sainte Lucie decided to open up. She sent over 33 songs that she’d been working on and ‘Mercie’ is the first selection of them. They are largely quickfire ideas of almost solely vocal performances. Think Camille and you aren’t far off.
The album barrels through 11 tracks in under 20 minutes. Sainte Lucie isn’t interested in longer tracks, with only two reaching over three minutes. Instead, these are songlets and curious arrangements. ‘Tristemps’ includes birdsong over sparse vocals. ‘J’ai faim’ repeats the title phrase like a beat as if Sainte Lucie is her own backing troupe. ‘Je bois une pierre amere’ uses soft vocal layering to create a collage of noise, like distant glass hues. ‘A vide (message vocal)’ is a jaunty and breezy uke and guitar ditty straight out of a slice-of-life cartoon. All this in five minutes.
The album takes stock with the haunting folk track ‘Acédonie’. Arpeggiated electric guitar gently lures you into a dense atmosphere as Sainte Lucie bewitches you with her curious vocal inflection and ethereal tone. It’s a standout track and would fit any gothic series. We then breeze through the choral ‘Hanagazaki’, the abstract pizzicato synths of ‘Super la lune’ and the hippy organs of ‘Une pizza’ in under three minutes. They feel like puff pieces and discarded demos rather than fully rounded pieces. I wanted more from them and would have preferred them extended.
The album closes with three longer tracks. ‘Patauger dans ses pathologies’ sounds like Sainte Lucie is singing in the bath. One vocal arrangement is cooing you in like a siren, whilst the main vocal is overblown in your ear as she coughs over skittish electric drums. ‘Les techniques de vente’ is far more aural and delicate. What is interesting is it is the third longest track with possibly the shortest melody that repeats without much change. It’s an odd choice to extend this track over others. The album then closes with the rhythmic synths of ‘La honte est le manteau d l’orgueil’. This is the most dynamically structured track on the album and shows that Sainte Lucie doesn’t just find a phrase to repeat ad infinitum.
‘Mercie’ is a very off-kilter and lopsided album because it blasts ideas at you and disposes of them too quickly. Sainte Lucie has a fantastic voice and an ear for curious, inquisitive melodies. These tracks largely feel like scrappy demos, in need of some gentle refinement. There is an absolute gem of an artist potentially hiding here. ‘Mercie’ feels like a very rough diamond.
Recommended track: Acédonie
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