Reviewer: Ian Foster
Though she has performed in many shows before and since, Madalena Alberto is most likely to be recognised for playing Fantine in the hugely well-received 25th anniversary production of Les Misérables. She has since been in London in shows like Godspell and Jekyll and Hyde both at the Union, and now the Portuguese-born Alberto is taking the opportunity to stretch her wings as a singer-songwriter with the release of her debut EP Heart Condition.
Over the four tracks recorded in Lisbon with producer José Canela, there’s just a snapshot of this artist here but an intriguing one at that as her self-penned songs embrace a wide range of styles. The layered theatricality of the title track bursts with a surprising complexity as it incorporates globe-trotting influences and a most alluring honeyed vocal, but this is neatly contrasted with the relaxed simplicity of the guitar-led Fairytale and the beguiling Rainbow and the Sky, the highlight of the collection with its gorgeously crafted lyrical imagery and captivating melody.
It is a little hard though to get a real sense of Alberto’s musical identity over the limited opportunity offered here. The quirky rhythmic nature of Gentleness is Power adds another string to the bow with its lyrics of pragmatic optimism but feels a little disconnected on a musical level, where perhaps a little more continuity in the material might have strengthened the cohesion of the whole. But what we do get is an indication of the richness and diversity of Madalena Alberto as a singer-songwriter to add to her already affirmed status as a performer of note.