There’s eclecticism and there’s versatility. Having one doesn’t mean you have the other, but Finland’s Rajala has both – and more.
A loose job description would be blues man, with homages to T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, and Gatemouth Brown (the original instrumentals “Blues For Sofia” and “Roaster”). Another “original” instrumental, “Distracted,” is a direct cover of Freddie King’s “Sidetracked”; so why re-title and claim composer credit?
“Stop Breaking Down Blues” owes more to the Rolling Stones than to Robert Johnson, and Hendrix gets a nod with “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp.” “Moaning For Molasses” is a bit of organ-trio soul that’s closer to the Vaughan brothers than, say, Kenny Burrell or Grant Green. “Come Into My Arms” is a hard-hitting shuffle with great reverby tone. And “The Truth Will Rock You” comes from the late, under-sung John “Juke” Logan – and it definitely rocks.
The biggest departures are “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” reimagining the Nancy Sinatra hit as loping Jimmy Reed shuffle, and a solo slide take on Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia.” As the title implies, Rajala elsewhere excels on acoustic, be it flat-top or resophonic. Even more versatility.
This article originally appeared in VG’s March 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.