Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Detour’: Album Review

Thirty-three years and 50 million album sales later, Cyndi Lauper‘s still so unusual: Unlike many of her peers, she’s maintained a focus on exploring unexpected musical avenues rather than exploring well, whatever the hell this is.

With a history of creatively reinterpreting her catalogue, an early Grammy win for Best New Artist, a Tony for writing the music to the hit Broadway show Kinky Boots, an Emmy and 2010’s best-selling blues album under her bespangled belt, pop’s ultimate chameleon set her multicolored sights (and highlights) on country with Detour (out today, )

Any record that kicks off with a righteously wacked-out cover of Wanda Jackson‘s legendary “Funnel Of Love” and ends with a prayer-like interpretation of Dolly Parton‘s “Hard Candy Christmas” has its heart in the right place, especially one powered by the ageless, effortlessly powerful voice of Cyndi Lauper.

That iconic voice — its mush-mouthed vowels, supersonic yipping, and belting soar — is an unexpected fit for country, and it takes about two listens to get past the surprise factor and into the heart of the songs. But once you’re there, Detour makes all the right turns, never missing an opportunity to surprise the listener or stretch Cyndi’s style just far enough to keep things interesting. It’s kind of like an unflappably glamorous rodeo clown, belting out an aria as a bull comes charging right at her, hitting every note and getting every laugh.

Laughter’s a big part of Detour, whether our Cyn’s sparring with Vince Gill (or “Hey, Viiiinnnny” as she New Yawkily drawls) on the Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty classic “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” or summoning Jewel like a Pokémon to yodel “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart” into the stratosphere. Presiding over the entire set like a fairy godmother in a sequined Stetson, Cyndi steps back to let all the guest stars (including Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss, who sounds more like a luminous nightingale from heaven above than ever) shine.

Her best solo moments come on covers of Patsy Cline‘s “I Fall to Pieces” (lovely and restrained), Marty Robbins‘s “Begging To You” (feisty and forlorn), and the oft-recorded weeper, “Misty Blue” (absolutely perfect); she’s a little less successful on plumbing pure emotion on Cline‘s “Walkin’ After Midnight” and Skeeter Davis‘s “The End of the World,” where her whisper-crying tilts what should be a heart-wrencher into camp territory.

All in all, Detour is a bold and exciting move from a true maverick who, throughout all her experimentations, remains instantly recognizable and ever-lovable. This is the great country record that the Del Rubio Triplets never recorded, but thankfully for us dimestore cowgirls and cowboys, Cyndi did. Yee-hee-haw!

Idolator Score: 3.5/5

What are your own thoughts on Cyndi’s latest album? Let us know below!