Anne E. DeChant 

Phantasy Theater

Anne E. DeChant: Her second effort spins better.
  • Anne E. DeChant: Her second effort spins better.

Winner of too many local music awards to list, singer-songwriter Anne E. DeChant has just completed her second album, Something of the Soul. She'll throw a record release party on April 1 at the Phantasy Theater (11802 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood) and has plans to tour nearby states shortly afterward. DeChant, who was the sole local artist to play on the Lilith Fair tour when it swung through town last summer, says her new album is an improvement upon her first, 1997's Effort of the Spin, simply because she paid more attention to the recording process and feels more comfortable with her band, which includes guitarist Victoria Fliegel, bassist John Weiler, and drummer Amy Good.

"With my last album, which was my first solo CD, I was kind of laissez-faire," she said during a recent soundcheck at the Grog Shop, where she was opening for Melissa Ferrick. "I was like "Take it.' I learned that, when you do that, you can't trust that someone else will come up with what you wanted. Not that that CD was a disappointment to me, but I felt that it wasn't me. I like [Effort of the Spin], but the new one is a lot more acoustic. This time Amy and I co-produced. We had a lot more to do with it, and a lot of the arrangements were done by the band as well, so I think it's much more of a reflection of me."

DeChant, who was raised in Avon Lake, sang choir in grade school, but focused mostly on track and field while in high school. When she got to college, she studied theater for a short time, but it wasn't until her senior year of college at Miami University that she started taking singing seriously. Eventually, she and Fliegel formed the band Odd Girl Out after she graduated and moved back to Cleveland.

Something of the Soul features the kind of songs that have made Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and the Indigo Girls into stars -- the cooing vocals and acoustic guitars have a folk-rock flavor that's bound to appeal to the Lilith Fair crowd. She says the experience of playing on the Lilith Fair tour was both "really wonderful and really difficult," but maintains that, even though she was "at the bottom rung of the ladder," she wasn't treated as a token local artist. In fact, DeChant, who recalled practicing for the concert's finale with Liz Phair, doesn't mind the Lilith associations, even though some local critics have soured on the concept of earthy female songwriters.

"I think [pigeonholing] is going to happen regardless, because of what I do," says DeChant, who also teaches 6- to 10-year-old kids at an early learning center. "It's just like a jazz artist would be put in a jazz category, so it doesn't bother me. I think my music speaks for itself, in terms of its lyrical content. I heard Laura DeMarco [of The Plain Dealer] call Lilith Fair "middlebrow,' and in terms of its diversity, I can see that, but I don't think their writing is middlebrow."

Because her lyrics generally employ genderless pronouns, DeChant has acquired a loyal following among the lesbian set -- not that she dissuades straight fans in any way.

"I would say there's a strong following [among lesbians], and I'm thankful for it," she says. "I think we have a nice mix. But they are strong, and that's good. I don't want men and women who are straight not to come. Really, anyone can enjoy the music."

Gregory Morrison, a 19-year-old junior at Kent State University who operates a music studio in Shaker Heights, has put together a hip-hop show that will take place on April 1 at Kent's Student Center. The event will start with a panel discussion from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a concert at 6 that will feature local hip-hop acts Marlo Bloxson and the Ellamentz as well as Pittsburgh's Strict Flow and Cincinnati's Is What and 8th Level. Admission is $3 for KSU students, $5 for the general public. Call 216-991-4827 for more information.

"Made in America," a showcase featuring local and national Americana acts, will premiere on March 30 at the Blind Pig (1228 West Sixth Street). Named after the radio show that airs on WERE-AM/1300 on Thursdays from 9-10 p.m., the concerts, which will take place on the last Thursday of every month through the rest of the year, will feature a number of artists who appeared at South by Southwest. For the first show, Nashville's the Ex-Husbands and Detroit's Gravel Train will be the featured acts. Promoter David Bowling says he intends to have locals open up for some of the national acts he books, just as he did last year, when he did a scaled-down version of the show. Call 216-621-0001 for more information.

Send local music info and something of your soul to jeff.niesel@clevescene.com.

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