Going To The Dogs: Athens Songwriter Gives Back With Debut CD

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Athens singer-songwriter Leah Jean has been writing and performing intimate, bare-bones acoustic numbers for the past 10 years.

However, it wasn’t until recently that she took her first stab at recording.

"Well, I finished recording in November, and the CDs should be in a box on my porch today," Jean said during an interview late last month.

Some of Me, recorded last fall at Peachfork Studios with producer Bernie Nau, is set to be officially released on Saturday, March 30 with a special show at Jackie O’s.

The EP consists of six beautiful acoustic songs, each one managing to tell stories of heartbreak ("This Old Heart"), squalor and poverty ("Another Cigarette") and general sadness ("Good Girl"). Jean's creativity shines throughout, with each tune possessing a unique sound and concise, interesting lyrics.

Although Jean plays regularly with her band The Posers, Some of Me is a solo release–in every sense of the word.

"One of the things about the CD that I am very proud of is the fact that I did everything myself, without any professional studio musicians," she said. "It was a great learning experience, and it was really nice to be able to go in and sit down and work with Bernie."

Jean has been performing for a decade, but it's only recently that she began challenging herself to write her own compositions.

"I just didn’t think I had anything more to add," she said, explaining her resistance to pen original material. "I liked playing covers…Bob Dylan and Neil Young songs, experimenting with AC/DC songs for fun. It was something where someone might just tell me I should learn a song, and then I would."

Not that she's given up on covers. Jean's band is known for playing entire sets of Pretenders songs, which comes as no surprise since her voice bears a striking resemblance to Chrissie Hynde’s.

The Posers will be playing a set at the Some of Me release party, a show that has been in the making for quite a while. In fact, the event dates back to Jean's Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the EP recording.

"I had initially started out with a goal of raising just $900," she said. However, by the time that the campaign was over, Jean had raised quite a bit more.

"I ended up with about $1,500. It came from a lot of great support from friends and family, as well as people who had just seen me out playing live and thought I sounded good. And that makes me feel really good."

A portion of the CD sales will be donated to a local organization–one that is particularly close to Jean’s heart.

"Five percent of the money that I raise selling my album will go straight to Friends of the Shelter Dogs here in Athens," she said.

The non-profit group works to find homes for the dogs in the Athens County Dog Shelter. In 2009, Jean adopted Charlie, who graces the EP’s cover, through the organization.

After months of the Kickstarter campaign, long recording sessions and CD production, Jean could be forgiven for sitting back and taking it easy for a while. Not a chance.

"Writing is a practice. If you sit around and wait for inspiration, you’ll be waiting a long time," she said. "This is my first attempt at an EP, and it won’t be my last. I plan to put the money I make from selling this album towards future recordings."

Some of Me will be available at the Jackie O’s show on March 30. Jean’s solo set will be followed by The Posers, who may play a Pretenders tune or two (or several). Doors open at 9 p.m. For more information, email leahjeansongs@gmail.com.