Material: Without venues and audiences, musicians have had to get creative and livestreamed events with a tipping structure setup are commonplace. For obvious reasons, they work best with acoustic music. The more stripped down, the less production needed, the easier it is to make it work in front of a regular laptop computer. That’s exactly what we get from Natalie Gelman—a wonderfully authentic, raw and honest yet refreshingly sweet folk-pop singer based in Southern California. From-the-heart originals such as recent single “The Lion,” “The Lights Upstairs” (written for her mom), a set-highlight called “Long Stemmed Roses,” and the frankly gorgeous “Streetlamp Musician,” sit comfortably alongside covers such as Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (complete with improvised mouth-trumpet), Radiohead’s “Creep” and the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong.”
Musicianship: Whether she’s playing the guitar or the piano, Gelman conjures every bit of emotion from her instrument. It’s not about solos or extended instrumental interludes here though; it’s about giving each song exactly what it needs. Her voice, too, is beautifully emotive. Sure, she can hold a note (and she does). But it’s not about vocal gymnastics. She’s expressing herself through song, and she excels.
Performance: On one hand, Gelman sat in her living room so there’s little in the way of traditional concert performance. How could there be? But still, she’s an engaging performer. Throughout the set, she engages with her audience—answering questions between songs as they are live-typed. People request covers, and she seems to learn some of them on the spot before playing them. So the DIY, basement-sessions nature of the show ends up adding to its charm (even, or especially, when her cat wanders in behind her).
Summary: Gelman’s livestreams prove it is possible for musicians to effectively reach their audience during this nightmare. An acoustic musician can just sit down and play, and that’s a wonderful, necessary even, thing to enjoy right now. When the lockdown is lifted, Natalie Gelman will be out in the bars and clubs and again, so remember her name.