“She is the future!” – so said one Carlos Augusto Santana Alves, whom one or two of you might know! European Blues Award-winning guitarist Erja Lyttinen earned this accolade in 2018 when she opened for one of her musical heroes Carlos Santana at Helsinki’s Kaisaniemi Park. The guitar legend invited Lyytinen to play on stage in front of 20,000 people. Carlos was full of praise, declaring: “It was inspiring to see her play. It was from the future, and I like the future.” It was here also where Santana gave Erja the nickname “Lightning”, referring to Lightnin’ Hopkins.
Erja Lyytinen marks a new chapter in her career with her latest studio album, ‘Waiting For The Daylight’, the Helsinki native having proudly self-produced this, her twelfth studio release. The album was recorded largely in her hometown at Hollywood Studios during the first half of 2022. For this latest offering, Lyytinen explains that she wanted to make a ‘proper band album’. “My drummer Iiro Laitinen and bassist Tatu Back are doing a fantastic job, we’ve put so much rehearsal time into these tracks before getting anywhere near the studio – and I think that really shows. My long-term keyboardist Harri Taittonen also joined in on the album, which was a real treat,” she says. “For this ‘band’ album I really wanted to improve my guitar chops and guitar skills, exploring different guitarists and their technics. This is a guitar-led album, with lots of guitar solos and interesting guitar parts, and a lot of slide guitar of course. In some of the songs, I have played over twenty different guitar tracks, and the whole album sounds huge.” All of which bodes extremely promisingly!
Erja Lyytinen was in the middle of one of the busiest times of her career when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. However, despite the challenges she faced, the entrepreneurial artist continued to develop new products and ideas throughout the lockdown period including, an autobiographical book titled the ‘Blues Queen’ (now available in both Finnish and English), a pair of guitar tuition books and the development of her own brand of tea. Lyytinen was also able to pause and take stock of her life, this journey of self-exploration proving to be a rich source of inspiration for the artist’s latest offering. Carrying on from the gifted guitarist’s last two studio albums, Stolen Hearts and Another World respectively, Waiting for the Daylight continues to explore themes such as love, loss, heartbreak, revenge….
Throughout 2021, Erja Lyytinen and her band performed multiple times on Finnish national TV, including a much-revered appearance as part of the country’s Independence Day celebration. The artist has appeared in Guitar Player Magazine (US), where she was chosen as one of the “10 guitarists who are keeping the blues alive and well for a new generation of players”. The artist was also inducted into the prestigious Finnish Hall of Fame.
Her pallet of musical influences is vast, encompassing the very best of contemporary blues-rock whilst inspired and influenced by the blues and classic rock greats of yore. Waiting for the Daylight illustrates that in spades!
The album opens with Bad Seed, a dance track with a nice fat bubbling groove you cant help to get up to. Last Girl is next, featuring Erja’s favourite, well-rehearsed, guitar chops! It’s a classic 80’s guitar hero track, think Joe Satriani meets Iron Maiden, very up-tempo with high intensity and on the surface, great fun. There’s a darker side to the lyrics, telling a story of school-ground bullying that’s personally important to Erja.
Run Away follows in a gentler, balladic vein – to start with, before Erja gets riffing again! It does feature a nicely melodic guitar line, with big, sing-along choruses. The real meat of this track for me though is the slide solo in the central section – tremendous stuff!
Waiting for the Daylight, the title track, opens with a whopping riff that any Metal God would be proud of, specifically Sabbath or early Zep! It’s clear that Erja has delivered what she wanted in terms of a “proper band album”, the four-some are having a high old time belting some of these tracks out, and WFTD is one of the best here. There’s some tasty organ here, and you also get an extended, nicely building guitar solo towards the end, with a guitar harmony accompanying the lead guitar. Erja having fun big-style!
Never Really Had You takes the mood right down – this is a slow blues ballad about long-lost love. Classic blues licks flow throughout, she’s paid her blues dues with this one.
Diamonds on the Road is another blues-led track, but at the fuzzed out rocky end of the blues spectrum. It rumbles along then builds satisfyingly, speeding up and filling out with some more great slide work amid a nice fat band sound. Yeah!
You Talk Dirty was originally released twenty years ago, but actually sounds older! It has a classic whopper of a 70’s style riff that again could easily be Jimmy Page or Tony Iommi. It’s a real heavy-weight track, the second longest on the album, with shades of Pat Benatar on vocals, a wonderful slow fuzzed-out middle section with lots of ‘moaning sustain’ before we career back into the signature riff, topped off with a soaring lead solo. I love it, for me it’s the best track on the album
Love Bites is a return to traditional blues rock, albeit Erja uses multi-layers of guitars very effectively. I particularly like the combination of almost vaudeville choruses and choppy rhythm guitar under-pinning the shimmering lead lines. The End of Music appropriately brings the set to an end, the longest track being a relaxed, slower slide-led bluesy Southern ballad, again a nice combination of lead guitar and organ fill out the gaps in what is probably Erja’s strongest vocal performance, notable for being recorded live in one take, they pulled out all the stops in the finale for this one!
Waiting For The Daylight is a quality blues-rock band production, released on Friday 7th October 2022, via Tuohi Records. The album has been supported via a crowd funding campaign.