I have reviewed Ms Lytinen a few times before but this live performance is definitely her most confident and assured to date.
Finland is not one of the places you first think of when looking for Blues players but it has a lively Blues scene and Erja Lytinen is heads and shoulders the biggest act to have come from there. That having been said, it doesn’t matter where her place of birth was – this is Chicago style Blues played at its best and her slide playing is up there with the best of them.
This was recorded at London’s fabled 100 Club and while many, many bands have played versions of Elmore James numbers there over the years she does give the music a bit of a twist and shake it out of its well-worn grooves with her accent and presentation. When she drops in one of her own such as ‘Grip Of The Blues’ it fits like a glove – the lady is multi-talented.
This isn’t screamingly loud and aggressive, there aren’t long, shredding, solos and she doesn’t attempt to batter the listener with volume and tricks, rather she is a superb guitarist with a fine voice backed by a top class band - Roger Inniss on bass and Miri Miettinen on drums are currently with Laurence Jones – who plays within herself and impresses with talent rather than flash.
Personal favourites here are actually her own numbers with the funky & jazzy ‘Grip of The Blues’ followed by a dreamy ‘Change Of The Season’ featuring excellent guitar backing from Davide Floreno. ‘Everything’s Fine’ is a belter of a Blues. The Elmore James covers include a beautiful version of ‘The Sky Is Crying’ and a classic ‘Dust My Broom’ (before the Blues Police come calling, this is the Elmore James classic and not its progenitor by Robert Johnson) when she shows some remarkable dexterity and variety in a duet with Floreno.
There is nothing shockingly new here, nothing that will change your mind about the Blues – it is just an excellent band fronted by one of the better slide players and vocalists around. Erja Lytinen is now a performer of worth and this catches her on a fine night.