Exploring New Landscapes

By Paul Rigg

Finn Erja Lyytinen’s latest self-produced album Another World (26 April, Tuohi Records) is a real treat for guitar lovers everywhere.  

The European Blues Award Winner is well established as a blues artist but recently her music has tended more towards 80s rock and metal. On her latest record she has also brought in American guitarists Jennifer Batten and Sonny Landreth to add to the feel that this is a real guitar-fest. Consequently, slide, solos and guitar battles, abound.

If her previous album Stolen Hearts was about heartbreak, this record can be seen as her confidently moving on from that, and that is expressed in the lyrics that range from raunchy to tender and from the fantastical to the celebratory. That diversity is also reflected in the musical genres that she draws on, from prog rock to jazz and from pop to blues.

The title track perhaps best represents Lyytinen’s ‘other worldly’ aspirations on this album. “The only thing that matters is that we survive,” she sings, in anthemic stadium style, as she imagines another place where we can each play the role of the hero. Fittingly this alien journey is accompanied by a long and soaring guitar solo on her turquoise Custom Shop Fender.  

The album kicks off however with another 80s style number, Snake in the Grass, with Michael Jackson’s ex-guitarist Jennifer Batten stepping up to shred, slide and do battle with Lyytinen as the track reaches its funky crescendo.

The heat gets cranked up a notch or two on Cherry Overdrive, which uses a car as a metaphor for you-can-guess-what. Suddenly we have
Lyytinen transformed into an entirely different role, which is playful, groovy and raunchy. “If you can’t take the heat, get off the leather seat” she sings.

Sonny Landreth steps up to play some outstanding slide on the infectious track Wedding Day, which charts a bride’s trenchant response to infidelity on the day of her marriage.

Hard As Stone,
which relates to loneliness, is for this reviewer the outstanding track on the album and is also proving hugely popular in Lyytinen’s live show. It surprisingly has a Latin feel to it and is overflowing with raw emotions. Profound emotions also feature on the following track, Miracle, about the birth of her twin boys; and with this change of lyrical direction the listener comes to appreciate the vast terrain of subjects that Lyytinen is covering. 

Landreth makes a reappearance on the mournful and yearning ballad Break My Heart Gently, which closes the album. 

Another World
showcases Lyytinen’s growing artistry and confidence as she crosses musical and lyrical genres with aplomb. She is accompanied by top-draw musicians and is not afraid to head off with them, guitars in hand, across previously unchartered musical landscapes. Expect increasing numbers of fans to follow in her wake.