His last album Blue Sea Bay was only released a few months ago but, never one to rest on his laurels, Freddie Portelli is back with another album. Nostalġija is Portelli’s latest offering, a new collection of songs inspired by the festive season and as was the case with his more recent album releases, once again with the aim of raising funds for a good cause. In fact, all proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to the Malta Community Chest Fund.
Nostalġija features 15 tracks, five of which are all linked to Christmas, among them the popular Ġej il-Milied, which had originally been released as a single back in the late 1960s when Portelli was in the Malta Bums. “Looking back now, it’s incredible when I think of all the time that has passed since we recorded that song”, Portelli commented, “and to think it has remained such a popular song with the Maltese people even to this day”. The other Christmas tracks are Twieled Il-Bambin, Ġej il-Christmas Father, Il-Milied Tagħna and Nistennew Kull Sena, all four of them having been previously released as singles but which have, until now at least, been hard to get hold of since all the copies had been snapped up. “So many people have asked me to re-release these songs, and this seemed like the right opportunity”.
On the album one also finds the songs Kif Igerbu S-Snin and Fejn L-Anġli Ikantaw, the latter particularly close to Portelli’s heart since it was inspired by a true event. “The song always saddens me”, he explained. “Years ago, I was meant to go and visit a young lady who was very ill in hospital, but for some reason or other, I never got round to visit her, and she eventually passed away. I still regret not having gone to see her, and had written this song in her memory”. Another song inspired by a real-life character is Tini Sitta w Intik Sold, which was written about a particular person who used to hang out at the bus terminus in Valletta, and went around asking people to ‘tini sitta w intik sold’.
While most of the featured songs have been released in the past, Nostalġija also features a couple of new songs, namely Ma Nistgħaġeb B’Xejn and Meta Rajtek Hemm, while Red Sky or Blue, one of the four Engllish-language songs on the album, is actually the English version of Portelli’s famous Xewqat Sbieħ. “So many tourists that I’ve met at my shows had been asking me to record the song in English, and I finally got round to it”. The closing track on the album is Morning DJ, which Portelli wrote as a dedication to all the radio DJs who wake up earlier than the rest of us and work hard to give us all a good start to our day.
Nostalġija is Portelli’s 19th album release since he decided to pursue a solo career. Almost all of the songs were penned by Portelli himself, with the exception of the title track, which lyrics were written by Charles Flores. The album was produced by Reciprocal Records, and is available from all record outlets in Valletta, from the offices of the Malta Community Chest Fund in Valletta, from the President’s Palace in San Anton and the Kitchen Garden, Attard.
An edited version of this article was first published on The Sunday Times of Malta's ESCAPE magazine (20 December 2015)