Erja Lyytinen

2019

Listening to the new album from the formidable Finn you probably won’t be mentally filing it under Blues Rock, if you indeed felt the need to categorise it, which is what you might be expecting from the exciting guitar player and singer. ‘Another World’ sticks out from the seeming plethora of albums by players grounded in the Blues by its wide sonic landscape, flowing out from the narrower confines of the Delta into an ocean of musical ideas, really well recorded, each track bursting out of the speakers electrically charged with engineering and production skills on display.

Opening track ‘Snake In The Grass’ sets the scene with its opening riffing guitars, interweaving to create a distinctly Psychedelic feel, before the vocals kick in. Erja stands apart from many female vocalists on the blues scene by singing in an attractive melodic voice rather than the more common 40 Woodbine a day and half a bottle of Scotch tinged tonsils of other singers. This enables her to write material that is more diverse; the catchy chorus on ‘Snake’ being a case in point, underpinned by strong harmonies the chorus soars above the duelling guitars of Erja and guest guitar shredder Jennifer Batten, and is, to these ears, reminiscent of harmonies on some Hendrix cuts. The layered guitar playing between these two after the middle 8 (quite a rare beast itself) is especially tasty.

The album is chock full of very nice guitar playing, as you might expect, solos, fills and licks being squeezed into every available gap and songs being extended with additional passages of instrumentation to give many of them the feel of mini-Prog like guitar operas. The guitar tone throughout is a fat sustained one that brings the fluid tone and playing of Carlos Santana to mind; no surprise then that ‘Hard as Stone’ was inspired by Erja sharing a stage with the man himself.’This tune features a delightful interlude with harmony guitars that recall the dual guitars of Thin Lizzy. Another guest player, the slide genius that is Sonny Landreth, features on ‘Wedding Day’, a typical song about love gone wrong that is a bit of a theme throughout, which sizzles along and is the most Bluesy number on the collection. In ‘Cherry Overdrive’ Blues style double entendres - “Got a new car, gonna take a ride, a fast ignition, a working transmission” (either that or Erja is a Top Gear fan) - are used over an ambient groove and floating guitar lines.

The title track ‘Another World’ is a big Rock ballad, with a vague lyrical message that is delivered powerfully, and which builds to a shredding, explosive solo where Erja shows off her impressive technique. It’s probably fair to say that there isn’t much going on lyrically in most numbers, despite many being heartfelt, but, as someone who believes that the lyrics are subservient to the quality of the melody and instrumentation of a song (but clearly easier to write about, which is why we read so much guff about songs that are moderately unlistenable but offer some supposed insight into an experience of staring into the void etc - that you’d want to avoid) this is not a criticism, especially when there is so much else going on.

Further examples of the diversity of sounds on offer are provided by ‘Miracle’ with its chiming Jazzy chords and the tale of loss in ‘Torn’ that feature a violin accompaniment and Emerald Isle feel, which could almost be a Corrs song, at least until the big, fat toned guitar comes in. Despite the wide range of influences on show in this collection of songs they have a very homogenous feel, featuring as they do the distinctive Scandinavian, melodic vocals of Erja and her fluid guitar playing over a collection of memorable tunes, beautifully produced. A nice collection and a signpost to further musical adventures from the Finn.

Simon Green

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