‘Ode to Maltese date-night’: Michael Azzopardi releases second album Vaganza

13-track Vaganza presents a feast of moods and atmospheres, from the joyful eruption of new love, to the tender admission of old love withheld

Michael Azzopardi, photographed by Stephanie Galea
Michael Azzopardi, photographed by Stephanie Galea

After his acclaimed EP Pistola came out in 2021, Michael Azzopardi is sharing his latest collection of Maltese-language songs in an album called Vaganza.

The warm and inviting record is an ode to the Maltese date-night, and yet another love letter to the ever evolving Maltese language. The 13-track album presents a feast of moods and atmospheres, from the joyful eruption of new love, to the tender admission of old love withheld. In Vaganza, Azzopardi creates a series of authentic Maltese tunes that also aim to entertain.

Recorded entirely in Mellieha at Ultralow music studios, Vaganza was produced by Jimmy Bartolo, with Mark Axiak, who mixed the album, producing two of the thirteen tracks. Both these local musicians play a variety of instruments on Vaganza, along with several other artists including Noah Fabri from band Karmagenn, Mark Abela (iż-Żizza) from band Brodu, Sean Borg and John J. Bartolo from Brikkuni. Electronic songstress JOON also makes an appearance, singing a duet with Azzopardi called Xatt ix-Xorti. Backing singers include Alexandra Galea, Jimmy Bartolo and Cher Camilleri.

Michael Azzopardi’s musical influences are many, and include artists like Devendra Banhart, Damon Albarn and Elliott Smith.

“Writing the songs for Vaganza started at the tail-end of the pandemic and peaked in 2022 whilst experiencing a longing for travel and romantic getaways. The songs are snippets from my past, with healthy doses of longing and hopefulness for beautiful days to come,” Azzopardi said.

“The songs were written during a very productive time for me creatively. I feel like I was improving my songwriting from one song to the next. I am proud of the fact that this period in my life was captured in such a vibrant way.

“It’s very rewarding to collaborate and work alongside some of my favourite artists. Their contributions make the songs so much more meaningful to me, fun to listen to and are elevated to a narrative that goes beyond the song itself. The tracks have become a small capsule of memories we all treasure.

“Working with Jimmy Bartolo and Mark Axiak was the best part of making this album. We formed a very special bond. Their musical skill set and impeccable taste in instrumentation, production and performance can be heard throughout the album. I am extremely excited to write more music and work with these two local giants again in the very near future.”

Vaganza is on all major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube music.