Sidney Gish Credit: Hester Konrad

Few emerging songwriters have captivated me in quite the same way as Boston’s Sidney Gish. On her breakout album, 2017’s No Dogs Allowed, she confronts her life experience with wit and fun, using self-aware lyrics and refined layers of guitars, vocals, and drums. The record—whose goofy, surrealistic cover prominently displays the Microsoft Paint toolbar—comes following Gish’s 2016 debut full-length, Ed Buys Houses, plus an EP and two compilations she describes as “dump albums” (that is, she used them to share rough material she didn’t want to develop formally). As she writes in the Bandcamp description for her second collection, 2016’s Dummy Parade, “Even if you make shitty scrappy music, you’re still making music, and if you make some album art and haphazardly glue all those songs together, it’s legit. Go out and make art.” On first listen, Gish’s observations about herself, particularly about how she interacts with others, can float benignly by, but deeper attention reveals an emotional maturity that might move listeners to reflect on their own behaviors and relationships—and her straightforward delivery provides the perfect vehicle for this process. Gish brings the vibe of her recordings to her stripped-down live shows, where she performs solo and uses a loop pedal to re-create melodies, chords, and percussion tracks. It’s an economical approach that doesn’t sacrifice her poppy wholesomeness or her life-affirming messages.   v