By Mike O’Cull
Finland’s queen of the slide guitar Erja Lyytinen fights back against COVID-19 the best way she knows how with her new in-studio live album and DVD Lockdown Live 2020. The set will be released November 6th, 2020 on Tuohi Records and features Lyytinen and her flamethrower of a band heating things up at Bluesounds Warehouse Studios in her hometown of Kuopio, Finland. Erja is an award-winning blues/rock guitarist and vocalist who was expecting a busy year before getting bounced off the road due to the ongoing pandemic. She decided to go beyond the intimate live-streams so many of her peers were doing and deliver a full-band show to her fans that gives them the best-possible concert experience under the circumstances. Lockdown Live 2020 hits that target head-on and proves the fiery Lyytinen has ceded none of her might to the virus.
Erja’s career was hitting an all-time high before the pandemic extinguished live music. She was voted one of “The 30 Best Blues Guitarists in the World Today” by the readers of Guitar World Magazine, won a prestigious European blues award, published her biographical book Blues Queen, and was set to tour the U.K., Canada, Spain, Finland, and Australia. She jumped on the chance to do this studio show when it appeared in the form of a pay-per-view event online and then turned it into this high-octane live album. Lyytinen had been separated from her band due to quarantine restrictions for several months and this was one of the first opportunities for the group to plug in and get loud together since their touring activities ceased. The time off did little to impair the talents of this high-energy crew and their sense of joy just to be playing is obvious.
Lyytinen burns brightly from the first seconds of the opening song “Don’t Let A Good Woman Down.” She unleashes a flurry of slide licks that sound like a gospel singer feeling the Holy Spirit before launching the band into a hard-nosed rock groove. Erja is a huge presence on both guitar and vocals and is impossible to ignore once she lets her light shine. Her boldness here is most compelling and sets the tone for the rest of the tracks.
She soon shifts gears into the slow and heavy “Cherry Overdrive.” It’s a sultry, riff-based track that’s gritty, sexy, and lowdown. Erja hits the vocal mic hard while simultaneously dealing out molten slide lines that eventually give way to a more chill and melodic middle section. Her extended solo there is breathtaking and she wrings every last bit of emotion from it before leading the band back to the heaviness. “Torn” gets further into Lyytinen’s melodic side and shows a pop influence that she wears well. Her voice soars over a strong triple-meter pocket and fully sells the song’s hit-single chorus. She administers just enough guitar to remind listeners who she is and what she can do.
“Snake In The Grass” is full-bore blues/rock glory that lets Lyytinen go all out on guitar and vocals. She solos with guts, plays her vocal lines as she sings them, and delivers an overwhelmingly kinetic performance that will leave listeners sweaty, exhausted, and happy. “Wedding Day” rocks even harder and hits a level of intensity few artists can match. Lyytinen winds her set down with the delicate “Wildflower” and brings her fans back home safe and sound. She’s soulful and emotive on the vocal mic and her guitar solo continues that vibe and raises it higher. Erja Lyytinen does more than her share to cure our quarantine blues on Lockdown Live 2020 and treats us to the kind of gig we all wish we were at right now. Give her a spin and she’ll cure what ails you.
Listen to “Cherry Overdrive”
Erja Lyytinen Online