Release Date: May 6, 2016
Record label: Rhino
Genre(s): Pop, Country, Country-Pop
What does it say about the music industry in the 21st century that so many former pop artists are embracing country music? So intertwined are these two formerly disparate market segments that there now seems to be little difference between contemporary country and pop/rock music. With each borrowing liberally from one another, it seems only logical that many former pop stars would try their hand at a country crossover. Where before country stars would occasionally try their hand at a career as a pop artist, the mainstream music industry has changed to the point the opposite is now true.
Aging rock and pop stars often seek a late-career safe harbor in country music, but 62-year-old Cyndi Lauper tackles the genre with characteristically daring eccentricity. Rather than dully respecting the vintage material she covers here, much of which dates back to the Fifties, she dotes on it, downplaying neither her goofball humor or New Yawk accent. Not every guest spot works – Lauper's idiosyncrasies don't quite mesh with Alison Krauss's pristine bluegrass harmonies on Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas." But Lauper and Willie Nelson are simpatico originals on "Night Life," and "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly," with Vince Gill playing Conway to her Loretta, is Cyndi's kind of shtick.
A spiritual sequel of sorts to Memphis Blues, Detour finds Cyndi Lauper swapping out blues for country & western. The "western" part of the equation is crucial to Detour, a record equally enamored of cowboy camp as it is of Music City craft and corn. Such a wide purview is testament to Lauper's taste-savvy show biz sensibilities, but by balancing ballads with riotous romps, she winds up with a bit of a mess on her hands.
Throughout her career, Cyndi Lauper has been a little bit of everything: a Grammy/Emmy/Tony award-winner, a songwriter for studio and stage (Kinky Boots), a pop star for the mall rats, a kitsch beacon of Goonies fandom, even a blues performer. And having cracked the mark of sixty-something celebrity, owing no one a damned thing, Lauper has opted to kick down the doors of country road tunes, even though said genre is not what one would call a terribly exclusive clubhouse. Her new record of country covers, Detour, can be described in much the same way as Lauper and her entire discography — which is to say, devotees will truly enjoy these songs for what they intend to be, and strangers will ask how the teeny-bopping queen became a truck stop crooner.
Róisín Murphy, “Take Her Up to Monto” (Play It Again Sam). Last year this Irish artist earned a Mercury Prize nomination for “Hairless Toys,” which served as a reminder of the former vocalist for trip-hop duo Moloko’s power and aesthetic. Her new album is even better, a curious, engaging work that mixes electronic and acoustic elements to create kaleidoscopic tracks.