I couldn’t fail to recognize the obvious connection between the recent cosmic phenomenon in northern Europe and Finland’s Erja Lyytinen’s latest incendiary rock of an album, Waiting For The Daylight. The only difference is that whilst flaming meteorites are millions of years in the making, the universally acclaimed Queen Of The Slide Guitar’s achievements span a more modest two decades. Coincidentally, Carlos Santana’s chosen moniker for Erja is ‘lightnin,’ a fitting tribute to Texas blues giant Lightnin’ Hopkins. Erja is a Finnish Hall Of Fame inductee, European Blues Award winner and a top 10 nominated guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine (US).
According to UK legendary producer Trevor Horn, music production is about execution, atmosphere and intent. Erja has emulated these important principles in her outstanding self-production of, and artistic contribution to, this epic album which is her most significant to date. The first of the nine original songs, “Bad Seed” sets the scene with an exhilarating tempo, infectiously buzzing riff and Erja’s soaring vocals contrasting with softer tones, the first indication that this album is from another planet.
The guitar introduction alone on “Last Girl” proves her mastery of slide is complemented by a whole range of six-string accomplishments which establishes Lyytinen’s credentials as a world class axe slinger, every track on this album proving the point. It’s an honest, no holds barred autobiographical account of childhood bullying and loneliness told with passion and conviction enhanced by dramatic vocal harmonies, sizzling guitar licks and thumping rhythms. The slower burning, captivating “Run Away” is a cornucopia of sounds and emotions ending with an audible sharp intake of breath after the poignant lyrics: “Run away before it breaks you/Until you cannot bend/Run away before it starves you / Until to the bitter end.”
The title track, “Waiting for the Daylight,” with its clever changes of pace maintains the introspection as Lyytinen continues to bare her soul to the world whatever the personal sacrifice. The singer’s moods reflected in her vocal modulations are in perfect synchronization with the inflections of each instrument in the band. In Erja’s own words:
“Recording this song was an emotional experience for me. I was playing the solo for my friend who died because of a long-term illness. In the lyrics, this beautiful creature comes to you on your last day to release you from your earthy pain. The intro leads to an airy verse and the choruses are quite heavy and dramatic. I played two guitar solos on the end of the song in the style of Tony Iommi to create tension towards the end. My band does an amazing job, with Tatu Back on bass, Iiro Laitinen on drums and Harri Taittonen on Hammond. I also dusted off my violin and played violin tracks to the end of the song. There´s a lot of layers in this blues rock piece!”
“Never Really Had You” with its intricate guitar starts off with a more gentle ambience highlighting the versatility of her excellent musicians who intersperse tenderness with contrasting crescendos of anguish. It’s a ‘60s style blues riff on “Diamonds On The Road” with impressive percussive backing from Assefa Abdissa. The intriguing “You Talk Dirty” does what it says in the title, a story told with frankness, drama and, ultimately, a controlled musical anarchic climax. “Not your honey/Not your doll/Not an object/Not an easy call.”
Erja achieves an unbelievable, almost celestial vocal performance on “Love Bites” with its distinctive tone, fluidity, range and intensity on a ‘Bjork meets Bassey’ spectrum. “The End of Music” contemplates missing gigs and the audiences during the pandemic. ‘The end of music/The end of the sound in our hearts/The end of music/The end of world torn apart.’ The song is a fitting finale and a reminder that Erja Lyytinen is nowhere near the end of where her amazing talent can lead her.
In terms of innovation, excitement and creativity, this album takes me to that glorious time when I first heard King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Alvin Lee and Cream live on stage. Waiting for the Daylight brings all of my earliest emotions to blues and rock music right into the 2020s and reaffirms them.
Recorded and mixed by Matias Kiiveri at Hollywood House in Helsinki Finland 2022
Mastered by Svante Forsbäck at Chartmakers
Produced by Erja Lyytinen
Executive producer Erja Lyytinen for Bluesland Productions
Photographer and digital design by Antti Karppinen, Alias Creative
Graphic design by Jan Yrlund, Darkgrove Design
All songs, lyrics, and music by Erja Lyytinen
Record label: Tuohi Records