Erja Lyytinen

Stolen Hearts

(Tuohi Records)

At this point in the Finnish star’s life she has much to write about. As an established blues-rock performer she already has a keen following in many countries, especially for her slide guitar style but from my recent speaking with Erja herself, an overall burning desire to write, arrange and sing and play an ever-wider range of material. Not a lass to be pigeonholed, Erja has much in common with the mighty Bonnie Raitt. Bringing in producer Chris Kimsey seems a good move, given his international work with The Stones, INXS, Bad Company, Frampton et al. An analogue desk and Kimsey mix gives us what we hear on this release.

Stolen Hearts starts with a gentle descent of arpeggio’d guitar chords. It’s a story song and rocking backbeat soon cuts in. Immediately it sounds as if her own heart is in this, the vocal in strong and guitar punchy, neat harmony parts and all before it blazes at 2:00. Capturing this in the studio is unusual these days where production prevails over actual performance, too often. No fire, no temptation to listen again! The wah surge @ 3:30 is exhilarating, indeed. It is all rather catchy, too.

Rocking Chair has tumbling gritty chording and reverbed vocal. The percussion melded in to the rhythm is smart. That EL slide guitar is heard, to great effect. Then Love Laboratory takes an ethereal floating journey into the upper registers, Erja sounds less angry now and more yearning. It’s a beautiful and lively sound with heavenly interludes that evoke fusion classics. 24 Angels is softly introduced over subliminal keys and might be at home introducing a film. She taps into a subtle vocal style with that lilting slide guitar. You would not straight away know it was Erja but for the guitar work. And that is some of the best on the collection.

Black Ocean has an emphatic blues tread, Erja using a pleading voice over the curling guitar figure and soft Hammond. The rather dark song melody works well. The chorus is strong as well. The guitar starts to sing over a White Room-style chord progression. Over seven minutes of great playing. Slowly Burning is a relationship-burned-out ballad which gives Erja space to vent her soul voice.

Lover’s Novels is a nimble number with echoes of my man Sonny Landreth in the slide work. Kimsey captures the tension. Maybe the best song here and a fine performance all round. Silver Stones is beautifully-paced and sung with feeling but control.

Awakening has a dark mood to start with but settles into a chugging romantic piece that has built-in sunshine. A song that would suit Sheryl Crow! City Of Angels is a star cut and an intriguing tale. Albums by certain contemporaries could use a song or two with this kind of freshness. Too many MeMeMe songs can be wearing.

Broken Eyes is the closing song on the disc. Written on piano it takes us into a peaceful vibe, albeit a sad song.

So, definitely NOT a standard blues-rock album. This is a set of songs of all kinds brought to life by fine musicians and an ace producer. Overall it is overshadowed by events, you could say. But then again a likely stepping stone to sunnier times by a lady (and friend) we are very fond of.

Pete Sargeant



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Erja Lyytinen's new studio album 'Stolen Hearts' is out now on Tuohi Records.

For more artist information and tour dates, head to www.erjalyytinen.com

Erja Lyytinen