Over the years, I've hosted a few Alfie Zappacosta house concerts. Times when friends could get up close and personal and experience the "real" Alfie in an intimate setting. Times when Alfie (and his entourage) would stay overnight and have breakfast with me the next morning. Times when I can honestly say I got to know the man behind the voice, the human behind the superstar.
I also wrote a song with Alfie for my Christmas record (Simply Christmas) and enjoyed time in the studio recording with him. I've seen him guzzle a glass of white wine before hitting the vocal booth and I have seen him do an absolutely stellar concert stone-cold sober. Alfie is as pure, as simple and as complex as it gets. And this is what makes him an incredible songwriter, even as he enters his 5th decade of music-making.
"Saved" is as diverse and as provocative as the man himself. "I'm a writer and I like to write as many different kinds of songs as I can," Alfie states. "Once upon a time, record labels would want you to have a certain kind of style so they could market you, but now I can do anything I want."
Oh, the joys of getting older! More confident. And more free! The first single on The Wave - "Unspoken" - fits our smooth groove format perfectly. Alfie's soaring vocal and witty lyrics glide effortlessly, like surf on polished beach glass. Then there is the title track "Saved", a song so curious and riveting and DIFFERENT, you initially think you must have changed CDs. Until Alfie's unmistakable basso profundo speaking voice arrives. Oh, how I love when this man speaks. “Just Like This” is quintessential AZ, with compelling words that sing like a novel, painting a vivid picture of his marriage. "That is an old favourite I wrote many years ago, before my wife passed away,” he explains. “It is something of an autobiography of me and my wife, about making a relationship work and the moments – just like this – that make it all worthwhile.”
The rest of the buffet is just as sumptuous. Our "hopeless romantic" shows up on "Here In My Heart" and "Always Near". We veer way outside the box with "Had Enough" (and it's bangin' drum intro). And the bonus track "De Pensar En Ti" is sung by out Italian stallion in Spanish.
It seems that Alfie is totally relishing his new role as Bon Vivant! "For the last six records I’ve made, I realized I had nothing to lose, so I took the bull by the horns. I am very much in control of what I do these days. Now, ‘it’s just shut up and go to work,’ plus I’m completely comfortable with everyone I work with. Gerry Mosby from Toronto was responsible for many interesting arrangements, and Marco Luciani, Andrew Glover, and Silvio Pupo (a Cuban-Canadian jazz pianist) were involved in the songwriting,” Alfie explains. “Making Saved was in part about getting together with some old friends and reliving good times. There was nothing but good vibes in making this record.”
Saved could be a metaphor for Alfie's own life and musical evolution. He says of the title track, "I’m not a religious character by any means but I am a humanitarian. Saved is about hoping for the best for people in general, and how if anybody is going to save you it has to be yourself.”
Sounds to me like AZ has "saved" some darn fine music for this stage of his life. He truly is that fine wine that gets better with age. Smoother, more unique with more depth and flavour.
Cheers my friend!
Vickie van Dyke