Québécois singer-songwriter Geneviève Racette proffers songs of love in a clear, sweet voice on her new LP, Satellite. Her tunes are more often about longing than satisfaction: the man who may not return her affections or the subject of an illicit affair, or the one she knows will end badly. It really does not matter. Racette’s voice suggests that being in love is worth the cost of being turned inside out. Racette sings with a pleasant lilt even when the lyrics suggest pain.
The same is true for Racette’s guitar playing. Whether she croons about a gentle lover’s touch or feeling overwhelmed by circumstances, she strums with a burnished vibrato that expresses a light sensuality. Just like the fact that Racette rarely raises her voice, and when she does, it is not much louder than a conversational whisper, her stringed accompaniment never gets loud. There’s a quiet intimacy to the proceedings even when she proclaims being on an emotional roller coaster going higher and faster or being a hostage to love or buried under a tide of feelings. The instrumental accompaniment implies she is over whatever once stirred her up and hints that she has healed from what once caused pain (or joy).
Taken as a whole, the nine songs present a picture of a woman in search of someone to complete her. Racette blames herself for her loneliness. Maybe she is “Broken” and unworthy, Racette she. She finds herself chasing rainbows in the night and waits for phone calls that never come. Racette has been hurt so often that she does not trust herself even if she finds an honest and faithful lover. She proclaims that she is a “Hostage” to her own emotions. She claims that she writes songs as a way of setting herself free.
But Racette protests a bit too much. Something is endearing about the fact that she is such a vulnerable romantic. One wants to take her home and comfort her, even when Racette tells you that she wants to be alone. She craves attention and human touch. Who doesn’t? Even when she rejects the comfort she so desires, as on the duet “Someone” with Dallas Green from the Canadian group City and Colour, her passion is clearly understood. That’s true of the one song Racette wrote in French, “Les adieux” (“Farewells” in English) as well. Even without translation, Racette unmistakably expresses strong feelings.
Racette personifies the desire we all have for that perfect person who understands ourselves better than we do. Her lyrics imply that no single person could ever satisfy her, but the fault is hers. Racette blames herself. But the sound of her voice and her guitar convey the opposite: she is a sweet and lovely person who deserves affection and more.
This dichotomy keeps the album interesting. Racette is the pretty girl in the group who complains no boys will ask her out, the woman who got married too young but did not want a divorce, the person who finds a perfect mate but is afraid to commit. Racette uses simple language and chord progressions to point out that life and love are complicated. It’s a familiar trope, and Racette makes it fresh again through her earnest approach to making music from the heart.