Starting as a teenager, Natalie Gelman performed some of her first songs on the toughest stage around: New York City’s subway platforms. Her roots in this bustling and crude world certainly explain the practiced power of her vocals. The EP’s title-track makes it achingly clear: “New York, won’t you listen/To a streetlamp musician/Singing her heart out for you tonight?” Gelman is singing to be heard, at all costs.

Her voice is immediately arresting in the energetic first track, “One More Thing.” However, as it winds on, Gelman tends to sound less like she’s singing and more like she’s yelling. She can keep up the volume and the force, but as she changes pitch there is an utter lack of gracefulness. When the next track, “Long Stemmed Roses,” tries to be tender, her delivery doesn’t change with it.

As far as I can tell, the fault lies partly with the music itself as well as the vocals. Especially noticeable in “Laugh So Hard You Cry,” the songs’ bridges, though they sound as if they should be climactic, rarely have a significant dynamic change from the rest. This, as well as the overall fresh-faced and edgeless sound, severely limits Streetlamp Musician’s versatility.

Though it’s understandable that Gelman would want to show off her talent for loudness as much as possible, not every song should have to revert to that. Naturally, the track that ends up standing out the most is somewhat of an exception to that rule, “Most The While.” While retaining very much the same spirit, Gelman manages to soften her vocals a bit and reach out with a heartfelt and comparably subdued love song. Even so, the mere fact that it is a tolerable break doesn’t make it significantly likable. In the end, it’s just another few minutes in a tiring set of six songs.

In A Word: Blocky

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