2020 – Hokahey Records
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 3, 2020
It’s been ten years since Micke Björklöf, Lefty Leppänen, and Chef recorded their last album “Up the Wall”. Their brand-new album Let the Fire Lead fabulously celebrates their twentieth anniversary of making music together. For the past several years this Finnish trio has been involved with other noteworthy musical projects as well. Björklöf and Leppänen have been busy with their band Blue Strip. Leppänen also had been involved with his trio Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang. Chef has been playing with The Lumberjacks, a band he co-founded in 2007. Björklöf noted “We had a wakeup call last summer when we realized that almost ten years had passed since the last album release. We felt this could be now or never, so we booked the studio right away.”. The album was then recorded at their home base in Finland.
On National resonator guitar, Lefty takes the lead vocals on “Small Town Baby”, a spectacular blues-rocker with a driving rhythm and the gusto of U2. Micke takes the mic on title-track “Let the Fire Lead”, a lovely and delightful song with Lefty on resonator and mandolin. “Gotta See My Church” is an amazing spiritual. Sung with a big bowlful of passion, and played with a fiery finesse, its heart-pounding bass and drums sets an ominous undertone. Whimsically advocating the minimalist lifestyle, they sing less is more in “No Stuff is Good Enuff”. The chorus is really infectious, and sets its hooks in quickly.
There’s a lot of energy poured into their cover of Willie Dixon’s “Tell That Woman”. With Micke on lead vocals, dobro, and percussion, Lefty on resonator guitar, and Chef on upright bass, the song absolutely cooks. Their voices harmonize quite nicely while serving up the country blues of Big Bill Broonzy in their performance of “Big Bill Blues”. I really like their cover of Robert Johnson’s “I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man” too. It is an absolute treat with guest lead vocalist Eero Raittinen. Chef’s pounding bass-line adds a sense of intensity while Lefty rips it up on his National guitar.
Let the Fire Lead is an extraordinary album of blues and roots music delivered in a meticulous way and topped with wonderful three-part harmonies.
Related PhillyCheeze Reviews
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – After the Flood
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Ain’t Bad Yet
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica
Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang – Hale’s Pleasure Railway
Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang – Stat(u)e of Mind
For more information about the artist, visit this website : mickeandlefty.com
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