The set from Erja at HRH Blues in Sheffield this Easter was a highlight of the festival “High class set from the renowned queen of the blues slide guitar. In the set is Black Ocean for me a highlight and favourite on the album now a live favourite as prog meets blues under the charms and skills of Erja. We joined her on the rocking Chair, sang along with Stolen hearts. Then the trained steamed up the hill with her interpretation of Tina Turner’s Steamy windows. This was blues that sparkled as Erja smiled, played and won our hearts.”
What a start to 2017 – two festivals and some fantastic live gigs, memory box of 2017 filling up fast. Adding to the mix of delights is a cascade of albums arriving through the letterbox both the electronic format and the traditional front door.
First thirteen weeks, I have listened to many and thirty-three have been reviewed Bluesdoodles keyboard warrior loves the listening, enjoys the typing. The hard part is deciding the number of doodle paws for the superb musicianship and variety of styles we listen to. At the end of the first quarter of 2017 from the 1st of January through to 31st March 2017: EIGHT albums shone bright, thus ten doodle paws were stamped on the cover.
Clicking the album cover takes you to the review:-
Hurricane Ruth – Ain’t Ready For The Grave – Hurricane Ruth Records “Hurricane Ruth delivers blues with gritty determination. She sets the music going and raises the tempo and heat until a perfect storm is created, with energised, swirling blues that are fueled with high-octane rock. …. The album is delivered with passion and determination the lyrics are set free by Hurricane Ruth’s vocal interpretation.” Read the rest of the review HERE
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion – This is The Life I Choose – 33 Records: “With three studio albums under Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion’s belt the fourth is definitely not running out of steam, it is full throttle blues. The blues are stylish, a mix of pathos and humour, reflections and looking forward, sadness and hints of joy” Read the rest of the review HERE
Thunder – Rip It Up – earMUSIC:“Rip It Up will never be a boring listen. Why? … Thunder’s eleventh studio album they a have definitely roared out of the studio with Rip It Up. An album for Thunder fans who have followed them over three decades and for those discovering them at today. ….. Rip It Up as new fans come under Thunder’s rock spell.” Read the rest of the review HERE
Erja Lyytinen – Stolen Hearts – Tuohi Records.“The only answer as the last notes fade is listen and explore Stolen Hearts again. Why? Stolen Hearts is an album of musical maturity that will remain a firm favourite for years to come in collections of lovers of contemporary blues without boundaries.” Read the rest of the review HERE
Jo Harman – People We Become – Independent: “The ten track, superbly crafted album closes out with piano and voice as Lonely Like Me with deep melody and a song that is timeless as we feel the hurt of loneliness and understand the begging for forgiveness as it is part of our own life’s journey. It is why we are the People We Become”. Read the rest of the review HERE
Catfish – Broken Man – Independent: “Broken Man is definitely not Broken giving contemporary British Blues that resonates curling around your speakers with sparkling class. … an album early on in the year that has to be a contender for Blues Album of 2017. This is a blues gem that is multi-faceted and a prism of blue hues that hits you from every direction.” Read the rest of the review HERE
Matt Andersen – Honest Man – True North Records: “ … The music has a freshness, with a twist of retro and crosses across genres if you love a good song, superb vocals and interesting melodies then Honest Man will be a much-loved addition to your collection of music that is personal and political.” Read the rest of the review HERE
Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado – Change My Game – RUF:“…a studio album that sets down clearly the intent that Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado have once again picked up the baton of creativity and the game has changed for them building on their previous catalogue …. full of freshness as all the skills, dexterity and feel of the eight musicians are used to maximise the blues, rocking funky sound that flows through the album.” Read the rest of the review HERE
Erja Lyytinen Talking about
Stolen Hearts and Being On Tour
BD:Hi Erja hope you are well, thanks for taking time to speak to Bluesdoodles, lots happening new album Stolen Hearts released 7th April and lots of touring including the UK from 9th April
EL: Really well thank you it is great to catch up with you again Liz.
BD: Before we talk lyrics, songs and touring how is life back in Finland juggling being Queen of The Slide Guitar with being a Mother
EL: Basically lots of balancing. Right now the twins are in daycare. Touring needs to be planned just organising life as off on a mini tour of Germany & Holland. It is all a rollercoaster ride often rather manic but definitely fun. You just have to jump-in and hope it all goes smoothly, often it doesn’t and you just go with the flow, that way you minimise the stress. Society and others have high expectations, which we are expected to obey. That we are all brilliant multi-taskers. Well, sometimes you have to concentrate on one thing and let the rest wait. The twins are used to me touring I have been doing it since they were two and half months old. February was a period of intense touring across Scandinavia with 24 shows in 27 days it was rather manic, we got through. Sometimes when I am in Finland the children can come on tour with me which is fun. I have a nanny to help and the twins love sitting in on the sound checks, playing with guitars we have really fun moments making lots of memories. I am a musician, a rock star but when I get home after a tour I am Mama again. The secret is to be versatile and I am definitely super happy. So glad I had the courage to have children, continue my musical journey one thing for certain is three years on I am a different person motherhood has definitely changed me.
BD: Stolen Hearts, your tenth album. Has a different shape to your Live In London and studio The Sky Is Crying. With eleven tracks that shimmer with blues that rock. Tell us about the thinking behind the album?
EL: Tenth album is definitely not a scary place to be. My expectations through life was that I would record lots of music. In fact, Number 10 does feel a good figure. This one feels like me, it is honest and a way for me to open up on the album. Reflects my life since motherhood and my life over the last two and half years has changed the way I look at things. I now try not to stress, not to be perfect. By the same token, I do lots of things and want to be good at what I do. On the album, this new feeling of relaxedness comes out. I now really enjoy being on stage, I now can open up and share. The album is very personal, the lyrics are heartbreaking stories. It is the end of a period of my life when I had the feeling that everything was going to collapse, eventually, it did, it took time to get out of that dark place. Music became my analyst where I could analyse my thoughts and feelings. This process deepened my musical expressions, now I am not afraid of being vulnerable, not afraid of being weak through that knowledge I have found an inner strength.
BD: You took the decision to record the album in two countries your homeland Finland and then U.K. Was it the lure of Chris Kempsey at the State of The Ark Studios?
EL: We recorded the backing tracks in Helsinki, some of the songs I had recorded one and half years ago and I needed to give myself more time as they didn’t sound right. We used Sonic Pump studios in Helsinki it is new with energetic young guys running the studio. Perfect place to record the backing tracks with the band. I wanted to take the album to the next level to give something new. Not just go to my home studio for the vocals and guitar, thought it would be nice to go abroad. I love England, I sing in English, so be good to have a producer who could check out my lyrics and pronunciation. It is so easy to phrase words that should be beautiful but mean something else English is so complicated with sayings and double meanings. I spoke to Alan Darby who is the songwriter I worked with in 24 Angels, which has a brilliant video. He suggested Chris, I checked out his CV and was blown away what an amazing history behind him having worked with so many Rock greats including The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Bad Company. I contacted him and we started emailing, sent a demo from my home studio of rough over dubs. He instantly messaged back lets do it. He was so active in the 70’s & 80’s and the album was using lots of sounds from that era.
We went through studios and State Of The Ark was available it was cool a small boutique studio, with a homely atmosphere. It was an amazing experience from the first to the last track. I would recommend that everyone explores new soul mates in music it is invigorating.
BD:When reviewing the album, on the first listen what struck me was the range of tones and styles across the album from Heavy, brooding Rocking Chair (a new sound for Erja) through to the acoustic feel of Broken Eyes and the prog of Black Ocean. The diversity works there is a continuity in the lyrics, the emotional journey and the heartbeat of the blues ensures they all make sense. How did you come to create such different sounds and take the decision to record them?
EL: Yes, you are right it is the power of the lyrics they give the whole album a sense of context. I had other songs left out these were the ones that worked brilliant together. The album is about sadness, heartbreak, fear of loss, frustrations. Into the personal mix there is hope, happiness lust and sex. I cried when I listened to the whole finished album the emotions are so close to me they are personal. I did for a moment consider dropping Broken Eyes as it is a different tone from the rest but then I realised that it fitted perfectly lyrically. The lyrics are the link but Chris Kempsey is the genius that mixed the album. The engineer that mixes the album can either kill it or make it. Chris used a mix of Pro Tools and Analogue a mix of old and new reflecting the essence of the album. Old rock is behind the music, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix. I decided to forget about the radio, I am not pop, so like the bands of the seventies if the track is seven minutes like Black Ocean it stays that length, I wanted the long killer guitar solos. It is my music, my album and it was a joy to work with Chris. The mastering done at Air studios started by Beatles producer George Martin; working with Ray Staff was a professional joy. What a humble, lovely guy who had mastered icons including Bowie.
BD: 24 Angels, a single from the album, how do you make the decision on which track works as a standalone track? This number Co-written with Alan Darby, certainly sounds like your vocals are flirting with the mic and blues guitar that rocks?
EL: This track was the second, the first single was the title track Stolen Hearts last autumn to boost my tour last year and highlight the forthcoming album. The album was planned to be released earlier with crowdfunding campaign but for various reason it was delayed that is the way often in the music world. 24 Angels is a story worthwhile telling to people with pictures. It is multi-dimensional with lyrics that are about morality and forgiveness; about doing something to someone or someone doing something to you and the resulting suffering.
In the video, a relationship ends in a fight with hints of him dying in a car crash. It is that mix of forgiveness and regrets. Whilst writing the lyrics I was thinking of people walking the last walk on death row would you be regretting, how much you would suffer do you understand all that when walking the path. When I write I go to the very extremes. I have now opened that box and have for the first time explained my thinking behind my songwriting. This one I co-wrote with Alan Darby, a few years back he came up with the lyrics for the chorus ‘Bring me water, make me stronger’. He also put his emotions into the song. There were only simple chords before Alan jumped in and worked on the Erja idea. He made it rock more which really works. He is a sensitive guy with a long experience in songwriting for many including Eric Clapton & Bonnie Raitt among others.
BD: With the album taking you on new directions where are you planning to take us on the next road in Erja’s musical journey?
EL: Blues will always be at the heart of my music. I mainly listen to blues at home. But I like to make it modern for these times. It is more acceptable to do blues differently. There is a blues revival, with European invasion into blues music. I will always have my own style, I do not want to go back for one thing, it is impossible to get the sound nowadays. I am involved in a Jimi Hendrix tribute in May already sold 1000 seats. The show will be a celebration of fifty years since he visited Helsinki.
In music, you meet people and we all know that Rock n Roll can kill you. You have to take care of yourself so take care of myself try and eat healthy. Returning home after 31 shows in 37 days where you have no time for sports. It is important that you take it easy and do exercise take care of your heart physically and spiritually.
Now I have opened Erja’s box I have a couple of songs in the style of Stolen Hearts and have some ideas for the next album but they are my thoughts at the moment. I feel really strong about my writing new stuff at the moment.
BD: Having toured the new album, I believe you had a February launch date in Scandinavia. Do you have a personal favourite that really works on stage in front of an audience?
EL: I have had positive feedback in Scandinavia, where audiences can be a bit tight on the blues. I did wonder if they would like the new songs, a different Erja, but they seemed to like my new songs the edginess. So the feedback has been amazing. Personal favourite Black Ocean.
Looking forward to being back in the UK for five shows including launch party at 100 Club, London; HRH Blues and a double-header with your own Chantel McGregor. Hoping to be back to do more later on with a longer run of shows.
BD: Last time we finished with what your dream band would be this time – what are you listening to and what Erja Lyytinen track would you liked covered and by whom?
EL: Listening to Robert Randolph, his steel guitar sound is fabulous. Also, listening to John Mayer he is smooth, easy-going and Eric Johnson loving his new album EJ,
Who to cover my song What a question! It would have to be Stolen Hearts by Jimi Hendrix.
BD: Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing the new numbers live at HRH in Sheffield.
Erja Lyytinen Exciting Blues Ensures Listeners Stolen Hearts
The release of her tenth studio album, Stolen Hearts, follows on from two critically claimed albums, Live in London and her tribute to Elmore James, her last studio album, The Sky Is Crying. The eleven track album has been lovingly created with production that is cooking the wondrous talent that is Erja Lyytinen. Recorded in two countries firstly in Helsinki at Sonic Pump Studios, then London where Chris Kinsey has used his breathtaking skills at State of the Ark Studios a hone Stolen Hearts into a standout album. Creating a blues-rock infused album full of textures, tones and another side of Erja’s immense musical talents to make acquaintance with on Stolen Hearts.
Stolen Hearts, will steal your musical soul, Erja has stretched her wings they shimmer with the blues and more. The album is confident, not looking over one shoulder to Blues music of the past but singing into the unknown as the album explores a wider range of tones. A crossover album striding across genres pushing them aside, making the music accessible to lovers of singers who sing powerful songs with gut-wrenching twisted guitar and deep and moody rhythms. Having listened to the album a number of times it grows and grows as new nuances are heard, different lines of lyric pop out and connect.
Every track is different some are stronger but none are weak. My thoughts on a handful the rest I leave for you to explore and describe in your own words. Opening with the title track, a gentle intro that picks up as a backdrop of percussive grooves for Erja’s vocals to rule as queen of the stolen heart. The edgy lyrics of a man-eater portrayed by a women who has the band at her fingertips and the guitar’s six-strings bend to her will on solos that create the landscape of the opening track. Laying down the intent this is an album that is another step in Erja’s journey as she weaves her spell over the blues of every hue. Second track in and we have a rocking good time tempo, redolent of Led Zeppelin but one-hundred percent Lyytinen. The bass acts as the Rocking Chair going back and forth as the seven verses unfold. The gripping speed and urgency reflects the lyrics about personal growth, how we should find peace and pride with what we have done and reflect in our Rocking Chair.
Co-written with guitarist Alan Darby, a single from the album, 24 Angels has deep melodies and breathy delivery as she flirts with the mic. Radio play should be a certainty with a track that fuses lyrics and vocals that allow the guitar to fly with the angels as we are lifted up with blues fuelled adrenalin.
Half way through you are as the listener pulsating with the energy power and poetry of Stolen Hearts. With a deep blue driving rhythm, Black Ocean is full of heavy riffs, solid repeated unchanging like waves crashing against a granite cliff. We know it is dangerous but we have to listen to Black Ocean with a Prog Rock feel, but never inaccessible. This is progressive-blues Lyytinen style. The keys add a soothing texture and the twin guitars add layers of sound that never overpower the lyrics and Erja’s vocals unless it is the emotional tension within the guitar solo.
The dreamy tempo of keys and guitars of Silver Stones, cooling the album down with melodies that etheral showing a vulnerability as the lyrics explore the pain of mental health and fantasy worlds we create and get lost in. The album explores human experiences and is up-tempo and reflective, we have rock and slow blues, slide guitar all mixed so that each track flows and showcases the depths of Erja Lyytinen’s deep luminescent talent. Closing with a slow acoustic feeling number Broken Eyes a song for piano and vocals. The power of the two create a love song we have all experienced. The only answer as the last notes fade is listen and explore Stolen Hearts again. Why? Stolen Hearts is an album of musical maturity that will remain a firm favourite for years to come in collections of lovers of contemporary blues without boundaries.
The release of Stolen Hearts coinciding with April 2017 UK Tour. The perfect chance to hear Erja’s new music live. The album is the first album to be released since 2015’s “Live In London”, and the first studio album to be released since 2014’s Elmore James tribute “The Sky Is Crying.”
The UK Tour starts at the Square & Compass in Ilminster on Sunday 9th April finishing in Sheffield at on Saturday 15th, See Tour dates below.
Erja chose to record Stolen Hearts at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki. Erja’s vocals were recorded at State of the Ark Studios in London by multi-platinum selling engineer and producer Chris Kimsey, known for his contributions to classic Rolling Stones albums Sticky Fingers and Some Girls. Kimsey also mixed the album.
Expect to have your hearts stolen with the new album. as Erja flexes her blues muscles as we would expect. This album has more as she explores musical genres with influences country, Americana, funk, folk, prog, R&B, jazz and rock create an exciting album. The one certainty her trademark slide guitar blues is used with force to interconnect roots and its musical shoots together this is an adventure that Erja wants to share with you.
“Working with Erja was a revelation,” says Kimsey. “She has the ability to perform and write so many different kinds of songs, and her vocals and lyrics are powerful and they connect with listeners.”
Box Office: 0203 287 4994 or Book Online – HRHBlues
Booked your tickets now listen to 24 Angels from the forthcoming album Stolen Hearts
Fourth track of the Album, 24 Angels a song is about morality and forgiveness. While Erja wrote the lyrics she was thinking of death row, when the final judgement comes. How does the person feel while walking that last walk? Relief? Fear? Written in a more minor key and co-written with songwriter and guitarist Alan Darby. Last year I went to India to play some shows. During the slide solo I played an Indian scale with semitones, which gives the song a more of a mysterious vibe.
What a line-up this not just promises to be exciting it will be with scintillating guitars, powerful voices as blues is twisted, turned creating a rainbow faceted jewel of every shade of blue. will be rocked, amazed and excited by the music from the first to the last note.
HRH Blues are proud to fly in yet another incredible talent for its 3rd round of Blues rock infused fun in Sheffield.
The Billy Walton Band compliment an already stellar Blues Rock line up and with under 90 tickets remaining, it looks like it will sell out even earlier than last year.
Ten Years After and Bernie Marsden performing at last year’s HRH Blues 2
Ten Years After
HRH CEO Jonni Davis praised the band by saying “ Walton’s talents are no secret among everyone in the Jersey shore music scene and with the founding of the Billy Walton Band, there’s little doubt his reputation will grow far beyond the Garden State. The Billy Walton Band’s sound is a combination of hard blues reminiscent of Hendrix, Clapton and Vaughn mixed with a healthy dose of Warren Hayes and Derrick Trucks.
“Live, Walton has always been an explosive performer with Jaw dropping talent but with the addition of bassist William Paris, Richie Taz on sax and drummer Johnny D’Angelo the Billy Walton band churns out a singular brand of funky blues that has deep roots in both the jam band musical tradition as well as the Jersey shore Walton has cut his teeth on. We can’t wait to see him perform next year in Sheffield.”
HRH Blues 3 takes place on 15th & 16th April 2017 @ the 02 Academy , Sheffield and the last few tickets can be booked online HEREor by ringing Lisa on 0207 097 1521
Pick Of The Bunch 2015 ~ The order is random all are brilliant and in with a shout for the Bluesdoodles Dozen of 2015..
These are from the albums I have listened to and reviewed throughout 2015 – this is my subjective collection happy for others to disagree. Bluesdoodles wants to thank every artist who has submitted music to be reviewed I listen and will always be honest and fair
Erja Lyytinen in Conversation with Bluesdoodles; Liz had great fun talking to Erja covering guitars, singing, Finland her Live album and so much more.
BD: Tell us a little about your musical memories growing up in a small town Kupio in Finland
EL:Kupio is a small city that is growing and also a University City so lots of musicians, including Nightwish, there is something in the water lots of great guitar players as well. There are three music high schools in Kupio; these give you the chance at 16 to explore music rehearse and practice rather that going to lessons that do not interest you. All very helpful as 16-19 is a fragile age this allowed me to develop my own music. In fact my niece has had a wonderful experience as her week of job experience was on the tour bus selling merchandise while I was with Riku Niemi Orchestra, with horns, strings and band it was a big thing and for her something to remember, this has a great effect on young people.
BD: Did you always imagine yourself as a professional musician?
EL: My family was musicalmy Dad played guitar and my Mum bass so lots of music and I would sing along with them. So yes I always thought I would be a professional musician. Music touched me, moved me; it felt amazing. Started playing guitar when I was 14 or 15 didn’t know what style I would play but knew it would be popular music could have been rock, blues or pop. For a while as a teenager I did think I might study psychology; how people think and feel did interest me. For me though song writing is like being therapeutic for people you are offering a story that touches the listener and in some way can help people in dealing with their emotions. Yes for me music is the best therapy.
BD: What attracted you to the Blues
EL: My mother listened to lots of music her collection was wide and I probably heard lots of blues through her. Then I was in a soul band at college and got into the blues through Ray Charles’ Georgia On My Mind – that was IT! It was going to have to be the blues band with some gospel, I was looking for something and found it.
BD: Is there a vibrant blues scene in Finland?
EL: Yes, it is getting bigger recognition all the time. Last year saw the first Finnish Blues Awards with lots of categories including Newcomers, Lifetime Achievement, Best Track of the Year etc. The media is starting giving blues attention, and wanted to know about me because I was recognised internationally and is now giving blues a lot more space. Finland is a long way north, isolated, but we have the Delta Finland! Internet has helped to break down borders so you have a feeling that borders are not so heavy and hard to cross.
BD: How do you personally define the blues as a woman EL:Blues, it is a feeling a deep feeling, there is an honesty, humour and seriousness in the same song. When there is deep, heavy stuff you need the lighter side as well.
BD: Do you consider yourself as a guitarist first, vocalist second or they equally important EL:I am more of a guitarist if I had to choose; in fact I was a singer first but I practiced the guitar more, then came the pedals and amps and other stuff that makes it all so interesting (laughing). So now they both complement each other and I love the opportunity playing just the guitar or the opposite as a singer it is so different as one can concentrate on them completely, but together can create something quite different
BD: Your latest album is a Live In London, what is the difference between live and studio albums and why did you choose the 100 club as the place to record the album. EL:This is my second live album already done Songs From The Road in Finland back in 2011 how time flies. The attraction of a live album it is easy to do, it is everything you do on stage. I am a live performer I love the interaction and it is honest it is what you are doing in that moment. Yes the studio produces a cleaner sound but added pressure to get it right, there are many different things that can be done in a studio but the live sound is good. I am trying to catch that feel in my next album which is in pre-production. The 100 Club is a venue that is in Central London and easy to reach for audiences. So many big names have performed there and in 1970 Sun House a musical legend of mine recorded and album I felt the connection.
BD: As a woman, do you still come across the male naysayers – girls can’t/shouldn’t play guitar? EL:Yes, like all women in all fields I am sure you have as well met sexism (we laugh and agree); but there is a definite change there are so many more women guitarists playing the guitar. When I was 20 I felt that other than the likes of Bonnie Raitt there were just a few others. Now there is a new generation including Chantel McGregor, Dani Wilde, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Samantha Fish and hope in a way we helped to lay a platform so they can develop their own style. I used to wear dresses and short skirts and corsets, now it is shorts, jeans and a top why it is easier to move around the stage simply right for me now. I have just done a tour with Riku Niemi Orchestra, Ladies Sing Blues Erja Lyytinen, Aija Puurtinen and Maria Hanninen it was fun as we were all wearing nice dresses and sometimes it is just fun to dress up and sing.
BD: Who has influenced you the most in your music writing and playing? EL:Never had one idol though from an early age loved the music of Ray Charles, Bonnie Riatt and Koko Taylor, but I have wide ranging tastes and influences.
BD: What advice have you had and what advice will you pass on EL: I have listened to lots of advice but very stubborn too so do it my way – advice I would give excuse the rude word – Move the Fuck on… in other words forget the bad do your own thing!
BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing EL:Now that is a hard question so many greats… It also depends on what you are playing let’s see…
Guitar – John Mayall perhaps his whole band Drums – Steve Jordan and /or Hannah Ford Bass – Willie Weeks and/or Nik West Piano: the late Charles Brown
If we have Hannah on drums it will be really rockin’!
Thank you you so much for taking time out of your hectic schedule as your are on tour in the U.K. To read what Bluesdoodles thought about Live In London check it out HERE