Ruf Records 2013
‘Forbidden Fruit’ finds Finnish slide guitarist Erja Lyytinen taking the blues into the personal realm, to find new ways of expressing her feelings, understanding life experiences and realising her musical ambitions. From the deeply felt lyrics and well crafted songs, to the emotional input of her solos and expansive band harmonies, ‘Forbidden Fruit’ embodies the essence of everything we identify as the blues. Whether you could call it therapy, deeply held personal convictions, or more simply a celebration of life, this album has it all. And as Erja humorously remarks; ‘It was all made without an auto tuner (laughs), so everything is played and sang as you hear it’.
‘Forbidden Fruit’ is a multi layered album. Peel away a layer and you will find another rich seam of lyrical meaning and intricate guitar parts. The heart felt lyrics match the deep guitar tones and sonic textures, all glued together by Erja own natural vivacity.
Recorded at Helsinki’s Rescue Room Studios, the album’s sensual front cover photo was shot at Murder Mile studios in London by Finnish photographer Tina Korhonen. The all female crew added to an apparent statement of Erja’s self confidence. And there’s much to be proud of, as ‘Forbidden Fruit’ explores the full spectrum of life’s experiences; up, down and sideways. There’s a imperceptible meeting of old blues traditions - the art of story telling and sexual double entendres - with contemporary musical values and guitar solo’s that evoke lyrical meaning.
For every well crafted turn of phrase there’s an intricate guitar part to match, ranging from co-producer Davide Floreno’s tremolo guitar figure on ‘Joyful Misery’ to Erja’s guitar- led wall of sound on ‘Jealousy’. She further explores the full tonal possibilities of her new custom shop Fender Stratocaster on ‘Forbidden Fruit’, ‘Joyful Misery’ and the dual guitar fest that is ‘Change Of Season’, while the radical arrangement and unusual chords on ‘Death Letter’ re-invigorate the blues standard and help integrate it into the albums sequential flow.
Co-song writer Alan Darby (who has worked with Bonnie Raitt and Bonnie Tyler) provides the American feel on two relationship songs, the self explanatory ‘At Least We Still Fight’ and the deeply personal ‘Joyful Misery’. The latter is inspired by a 50 year relationship between her uncle and aunt. The lyrics of the title tracks pull no punches - ‘A flower in blossom attracts all kind of bees’ - as Erja achieves her goal of ‘sounding honest, beautiful and sad at the same time’, before she belatedly offers us a cathartic release with Lil Johnson’s ‘Press My Button’.
‘Forbidden Fruit’ is an album of real substance, emotion, superb band interplay and Erja’s very best vocals. The blues never sounded more essential.