Alfie Zappacosta | Saved Review
By Tom Faddis
Alfie Zappacosta is releasing a new album on Alma/Universal called Saved. The award-winning, platinum-selling singer, songwriter, and producer is at the top of his game through the nine tracks presented here. This album is his sixteenth, and his rich, signature soaring voice has improved with age, gaining a new mark of resonance. The settings range from soulful and romantic ballads to the gospel-tinged feel to upbeat and jazzy. The diversity of tempos, instrumentations, and tones on Saved keeps things interesting with influences coming from pop, jazz, and rock elements, and reflect Zappacosta’s current mandate: “I’m a writer, and I like to write as many different kinds of songs as I can. Once upon a time, record labels would want you to have a certain style, so they knew how to market you, but now I can do anything I want.”
“Unspoken” puts Zappacosta’s vocals amid excellent musicianship, with strings, horns, and stunning nylon-strung guitar all used judiciously to add strength and character to the song. The muted trumpet adds character as Zappacosta’s vocals are smooth and enjoyable. The melody and lyrics explore Zappacosta’s vibrant hues with gliding elegance, and chamberesque adornments fit his mood perfectly.
Playing a vital role in the recording was fellow Edmontonian Louis Sedmak. “He’s an all-round great musician and a fabulous engineer and mixer too,” Zappacosta explains. “We recorded the album at his fully functional home studio, with Louis engineering.” Sedmak plays guitar on the album along with Toronto session aces Denis Keldie and Blake Manning. Zappacosta describes himself laughingly as “a hopeless romantic,” which is reflected in much of his writing. He digs deep into his own heart but then translates those emotions into imaginative literary and philosophical insights. The title track captures his romanticism in an upbeat moving selection that melds multiple styles, which is not a spiritual song despite the gospel favor and the title. “I’m not a religious character by any means, but I am a humanitarian,” Zappacosta stresses. “‘ 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.”
Saved has various influences that inform the many feels, sounds, and textures, but there are a remarkable consistency and clarity across this program. Zappacosta’s singing and projection are constantly endearing, regardless of stylistic touch, and his vision for how to shape the lyrics and melodies of the pieces brings each one to life. Saved is a survey of Canada’s most notable instrumental talents, and Zappacosta’s singing sounds strong as ever.
Street Date: January 8, 2021
Label: Alma Records