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Erja Lyytinen: 100 Club, London

24th April 2017

andy rawll
Words: Andy Rawll

Erja Lyytinen

A regular visitor to these shores since the release of her 2010 album, 'Voracious Love', this latest foray by this fiery Finnish fretboard Queen coincided with the release of her acclaimed new album, 'Stolen Hearts', which is reviewed below.

In fact, Erja's reputation as a skilled guitarist and singer reaches further back to her debut, 'Attention!', in 2002. Yet, it's with this latest album that the songs, performance and production have finally aligned to deliver a compelling work of broad appeal.

Better still, backed by the "best guys in Helsinki", the bond of sister and brothers in musical arms was strong and united with finesse and style to deliver the new songs with the added depth and dynamism of a live performance, with the crisp percussion particularly effective.

As advertised, the show was all about showcasing songs from the new album. The front-to-back quality of this latest collection meant that Erja (pronounced "area") was able to structure the set for the dynamics of a live show, rather than follow the album running order. As such, she opened with one of the slow-burn beauties from the album 'City Of Angels', enabling her to build the atmosphere and rapport for what proved to be a gig of Dreamland Blues, just as her fine 2006 release had promised. This segued into the vibrant shuffle of 'Lover's Novels' with its bubbly bass riff underpinning her strong appealing voice and some fierce slide guitar.

Erja Lyytinen

The sludgy octaved riff of 'Black Ocean' kicked-up the pace with its insistent groove. It's one of the stand-out tracks from the album with a wonderful arpeggiated middle section leading to a gorgeously phrased solo that builds to a thrilling coda.

The warm embers of Erja's rich voice really fired-up the sultry blues of 'Slowly Burning' accompanied by tasty fretwork that reminded me of Joanne Shaw Taylor. A cover of one of her vocal idols Koko Taylor's 'I'm A Woman' was badder-to-the-bone than the original with some great heavy blues duelling between Erja's guitar and Antti Ikola's keyboards that raised the performance to boiling point.

In this perfectly-paced set, three of the best songs from the new album were saved for the home run. First, title track 'Stolen Hearts', which is a great trans-genre RnB track in that it combines traditional blues instrumentation with the more contemporary, soul-based RnB vocals. Next, '24 Angels' which starts as a conventional power ballad and accelerates with some of the dirtiest slide you will ever hear to reach a powerful climax.

Finally, the set closed with the catchy 'Rocking Chair' with its strutting, stuttering Zeppelin-style riff and distorted swamp of compelling slide guitar. Played at more pace and purpose than the album version, and featuring more great interplay between Kai Jokiaho and Juha Verona on drum and bass, this proved to be just the beginning of the end.

After a brief break, the audience and the band were ready for the encore a comin', a breathtaking cover of Curtis Mayfield's classic song, 'People Get Ready', so memorably covered by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. Quite a magnificent way to close the show and prove their readiness for their ascent to Hard Rock Hell Blues Festival at Sheffield Academy a few days after the London show.

From the great response to the new album and this short UK tour, it's no surprise that Erja and band are already planning a return to these shores later this year.


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City Of Angels
Lover's Novels
Everything's Fine
Black Ocean
Slowly Burning
I'm A Woman
Stolen Hearts
24 Angels
Rocking Chair
People Get Ready

Erja Lyytinen

Out Now (Tuomi Records)

Devilishly good songs fiendishly played and sung angelically...

Best known for her lithe blues guitar style and slide guitar mastery, this latest album marks a conscious broadening of her musical horizons and is all the better for that. It delivers cohesive yet diverse mix of styles and moods, across a set of songs that showcase a voice that previously has been rather overshadowed by her six-string prowess.

The catalyst for the great vocal performances that elevate this engaging collection of songs from good to great is renowned audio magician Chris Kimsey. Drawing upon his deep well of experience and the vintage recording environment of State the Ark studios, the man that captured iconic performances from Plant and Jagger, has done a supreme job of capturing the previously unfathomed depths of Erja’s vibrant, rich and emotive voice.

Ironically, for such a sing-song album, her guitar playing has never sounded better with each arrangement and solo complementing each accompanying song, the dreamy and affecting solo on 'Silver Stones' being a highlight and the devilish slide on '24 Angels' is really wicked. A consistently strong release whether listened from front-to-back or back-to-front.

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