Alice Wallace and Caitlin Cannon faced different sides of the same problem.
Closing in on a decade of doing as many as 200 shows a year, Wallace came into 2019 with rockin’, twangy and tender new album “Into the Blue,” but suddenly had no stages to play on. Cannon had written under pseudonyms for years in an effort to make money, but when she leaned into her unique talents for sardonic-to-sad songs on her 2020 debut, “The TrashCannon Album,” the pandemic gobbled up her artistic momentum.
“It’s so hard to crack the code of how to make money in this business,” Cannon told the Herald. “Alice has been touring for eight, nine years and that’s how she was making money. For me, the album that I released into the belly of the pandemic was the first time I felt like, ‘This is my artistry.’ But I had been writing pop songs under aliases.”
“I was burnt out on the things I was doing and Alice couldn’t tour,” Cannon added. “What did we have? We had our pen and our paper and our truth.”
Sparked by a budding friendship and a songwriting connection, the pair formed the band Side Pony. During the heart of the pandemic, the two spent Wednesdays writing songs via Zoom — Wallace in Nashville, Cannon in Durango, Colo. And those songs were amazing.
Earlier this month, Side Pony released “Lucky Break” — you can celebrate the release at the Rockwell in Somerville’s Davis Square on Sunday. Over eight songs, “Lucky Break” swings from bootstompers to ballads, humor to heartbreak, outlaw country homages and cutting critiques of contemporary culture.
“We wrote these songs out of an effort to make sense of everything that was happening in the moment, culturally and on an individual, existential level,” Cannon said.
One standout track, “Heels,” looks at the gender cliches with cheek and a dark urgency.
“That is the most popular song and when that chorus kicks in you see the audience get it and start cheering along, clapping along,” Wallace said. “But it does have a serious undertone that I think some people get more than others. … We try to write lyrics that hit people like that, for better or worse.”
While writing “Lucky Break,” the duo had a singular focus: Create songs they love without compromise. Every song the pair have written made the album, but that meant a release with only eight songs.
“We both agreed that we weren’t going to write a song unless we were really invested in it, really connected to it,” Wallace said.
“When we started the weekly writing appointment, we weren’t writing songs for the purpose of marketing them,” Cannon continued. “By the time it was suggested to us that we form a band to have a vehicle for this material, the body of work that we had created was already pretty cohesive. The material was a reflection of both of us.”
Wallace and Cannon may have rid themselves of those different sides of the same problem with Side Pony. They can tour (and will extensively this month and during 2022) and have a band that makes no aesthetic compromises.
For tickets and details, go to sideponyband.com.Internet Explorer Channel Network