Rachael Cantu

 When we were little kids, it seemed pretty clear what the future held for us. We were all going to be President, a pro surfer, model, fire fighter, or of course, rock star. That was okay though, because in previous generations, most people decided to become other stuff instead as they got older. The funny thing about our generation though, as social anthropologists have started noticing, is that we’re not doing that. We’re perfectly happy to pull beers, serve burgers and hand out paper towels in trendy club bathrooms forever as we plug away at that dream of making it as an artist. And the problem with that, combined with the crushing democracy of the Internet, is that real talent can get lost in the loud roar of everybody scrambling to get famous all at once. This brings us to Rachael Cantu, whose fine voice and poetic sensibilities are also vying for room in the crowded global spotlight. Cantu’s first solo album with Q Division Records, Run All Night, is both lyrically sensitive and a reflective showcase for her sweet, very young sounding voice. Track five, “Sweat and bones,” is smooth and declarative, and the title track is a seductive meditation. Cantu’s website describes her music as indie rock and blues: moody, aching and anguished. But that’s not quite right. When she first picked up the guitar at age 16, she’d lock herself in her bedroom and play alone for hours. Her music still retains that quality of loneliness, exploration and an increasingly conscious loss of artlessness. Cantu named old, dark romantic novels as an inspiration for her song writing, and this makes sense. Her lyrics are dark, romantic and a little formal. But that burnished sophistication we’re used to hearing from major recording artists really isn’t there. Far from being a liability, that absence is refreshing. Cantu is working carefully but naturally, and it sounds pretty good. Run All Night isn’t Cantu’s first foray into the music industry. She split from her So Cal band Quite Satellite to do her own thing, performing shows with the Shipping News and Ben Lee, and recording with Limbeck, Kori Gardner of Mates of State, and Jason Gnewikow of The Promise Ring. She’s back in California after a recent tour, working two jobs, writing songs, doing some recording, and trying to figure out what’s going to guarantee her staying power. “I hate being the girl with the guitar,” Cantu said. “I don’t want to be that. I know when I go to a show and I see a girl walk up with an acoustic guitar, I kind of sigh.” It will be up to Cantu to figure out the best way to market herself so that she’s not just another talented girl with a guitar and a beautiful voice. “You just keep the buzz going. That’s all you can do is keep the buzz going,” Cantu said. In the meantime, reality grinds away. Cantu came back to Dana Point seven months ago after a long stint of touring. Like a lot of musicians, she’s working the kind of jobs that get the bills paid and buy more time for making more music. The focus is supposed to be on working, writing and recording. New songs are definitely in the works, and they’re just as fierce and lonely. “The whole goal was not to play shows, but even that is kind of freaking me out,” Cantu said. “Going from playing a show every night to barely playing any shows… It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to write today, I’m not going to promote myself today.’ But you can’t just sit around waiting for things to happen. You might as well work.” If you’d like to hear tracks from Cantu’s first album, or get information about upcoming shows, check out her website at www.myspace.com/rachaelcantu.
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