Feisty and Intelligent Blues From Finland.
Criminally ignored by the English speaking world there is an excellent and vibrant music community all across Scandinavia; but for me Finland has the most eclectic and talented artists of the lot.
I only discovered Erja Lyytinen a couple of years ago with the release of her Live in London compilation album; but that only whetted my appetite for this, her ninth and latest studio album.
The title track Stolen Hearts gets proceedings off to a hot and sultry start, with Erja’s distinctive Finnglish accent purring and growling her way through a tale of a carefree young woman who finally finds love.
The concept behind Love Laboratory really intrigues me; is love an accident, fate or contrived? Who knows, but this song is intricate and clever while never really finding an answer; but that doesn’t matter as Lyytinen’s subtly funky guitar playing and the bands’ late night Jazz groove make for a really cool song.
This is followed by the beautiful ballad 24 Angels, featuring some glorious slide guitar and restrained yet muscular vocals from the singer-guitarist.
While guitar lovers will drool all over this record; for me it’s the actual songs and the way Erja Lyytinen sings them which makes her stand out in a very crowded market place. Awakening is a great case in point; with some tightly wrapped guitars licks and a powerhouse rhythm section only there to bring out the ‘story’ of someone re-falling in love with their long time lover…….a clever twist on a tired theme.
City of Angels is fascinating too, with Erja re-imagining her time as a student in Los Angeles which must have been a whole world and a half away from her home in Finland. The detail in the shadows is first-class on what is first and foremost a cool Blues Rocker worthy of Rory Gallagher or Bonnie Raitt.
The album closes with a bit of a surprise; as Erja puts down the electric guitar and sits alone at the piano to serenade us with Broken Eyes, probably the saddest song here and one that will haunt you for a long time.
Which all brings me to my ‘favourite track’ here; this award goes to songs for a myriad of reasons; and while Silver Stones doesn’t necessarily stand out and nor is it the most commercial song here; it is the most important.
It wasn’t until I was listening on headphones that the layers peeled away and I was left gob-smacked at the darkly beautiful tale of someone on the brink of mental illness and battling their demons with all of their might.
Sadly it’s a subject close to my heart and I guess everyone reading this will know of someone in a similar position, so give it a listen and marvel at the way Erja Lyytinen weaves her magic with words and guitar around a tragic subject.
As a reader hopefully you will have an open mind when it comes to music; so I urge you to give this young woman with a huge talent a listen; I think you will be very pleasantly surprised…..I was.
RELEASED UK & Europe 7th April 2017
RELEASED FINLAND Feb 3rd 2017