ERJA LYYTINEN The Sky Is Crying
Tributes to American blues legends are risky especially when attempts are made to stick to the original versions of songs. Omar Dykes succeeded vocally with his heartfelt Howlin’ Wolf tribute, and Rory Block’s homage to Mississippi John Hurt was brilliant because she is an established authority on country blues worldwide and has a deep empathy with this genre. Erja is another worthy entry into this category as she gets as close as anyone could do to the funky, fiery and textured sound epitomised by Elmore James and his trademark crying slide guitar. The opening track, Person To Person sets the scene by conveying the Mississippi bluesman’s essential message about the centrality of human communication. Erja’s Contribution To Jazz is a superb instrumental which does exactly what the title says whilst Got To Move with its evocative arrangement, haunting solos and melodic, fluid vocals is a performance of pure genius. The eponymous track will have fans of James, and indeed all blues lovers, in tears such is the raw emotion and drama conveyed by Lyytinen as she reaches an anguished crescendo both vocally and on guitar. But above all, this is a joyous album, typified by the upbeat celebration of The King Of The Slide Guitar.
The studio recording is excellent with every note of each instrument crystal clear, the impressive brass section particularly prominent. The live version of Dust My Broom is a tour de force which showcases Lyytinen’s considerable vocal range, beautiful toning and versatile guitar skills. With The Sky Is Crying, Erja has seemingly achieved the impossible by both sounding like Elmore as he played in the 1950s whilst adding her unique flair and 21st century vista.