Cyndi Lauper: ‘Detour’ Track-by-Track Review

countryweekly.com
countryweekly.com

Cyndi Lauper is arguably one of the music industry’s most musically and visually unique and talented artists. From her trademark sound, to her fashion and cultural influences, and even her mega sized philanthropic heart, Lauper is adored by legions of loyal fans. May 6, 2016 marks a special occasion for Lauper as it is the release date for her country-inspired album, Detour. With the release of the new album, Detour promises to be some of Lauper’s best musical work to date. While musically country and western inspired, Detour delivers and offers so much more than a strong showcase of Lauper’s vocals and creative arrangements.

The first question you might want to ask when you hear that Cyndi Lauper is releasing a country inspired album is; “What exactly will Detour sound like?” I can tell you exactly what it sounds like. It sounds like another great addition to musical library of the multitalented Cyndi Lauper. Yes, there is no argument that Lauper is tackling some legendary country music hits on this album, but let me assure you that the album is all classic Lauper. When you look past “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and you stand back and have a deep look into Lauper’s entire musical career, you realize that Detour is just another stepping stone on her musical journey. Detour seamlessly blends in with the consistency of some of Lauper’s previous works of art such as Memphis Blue and At Last. It is no longer a huge stretch that one of the biggest pop stars of the 80’s can also sing the best of country music.

Detour is a collection of some of Lauper’s favorite tunes from over the years as an artist and a fan. Recruiting some of country music’s best, Detour is polished and stands out in a crowd of cover albums. With the vocal talents of Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Jewel, and Alison Krauss, and the production talents of the legendary Nashville producer Tony Brown you know as a true country fan, you’re in for some pretty authentic performances. While staying true to the roots of each song, Lauper tackles them with ease and delivers them in a way that only she could!

“Funnel of Love” was a single released by Wanda Jackson in 1961. Though never one of Jackson’s chart topping hits, it is still regarded as some of Jackson’s best vocal work. Lauper turns this fan loved favorite into her own as her vocals pack a power punch in each lyric. The arrangement is fresh, but resembles the same progressive sound that the original song had back in 1961.

Jimmy Walker released “Detour” in 1945, but it was American Western swing musician, Spade Cooley who managed to bring the track to the number two spot on the charts in 1946. Featuring the vocals of Emmylou Harris, the two icons blend and harmonize perfectly on this rendition.

From Reba McEntire to Eddy Arnold “Misty Blue” has been a country standard since it was penned back in 1966 by Bob Montgomery. Most notably “Misty Blue” was a charting success back in 1976 for Dorothy Moore. Lauper uses this ballad to completely pour out her heart and soul. Completely captivating, Lauper conveys so much emotion during her vocal performance, you can feel the pain of the lyrics right there in your ears. Flawlessly performing, this particular track is one of the most suited for Lauper’s vocal stylings. Definitely one of those “goosebumps on the back of your neck” tracks.

The success and tragic story of the country music legend Patsy Cline is one of the most well-known stories in musical history. Cline left a musical standard so high that generations of artists have been trying to recreate the same authentic sound that Cline carved into country music with the release of her beloved recordings since her tragic passing in 1963. “Walkin’ After Midnight” became Cline’s first commercial hit back in 1957. Lauper tackles Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” with a traditional arrangement and smooth vocals.

Harlan Howard has penned some of country music’s most sought after songs. In 1959 Howard wrote “Heartaches By The Number.” The endless list of artists who have recorded the song since 1959 contains legends such as George Jones and Ray Price. With a classic arrangement, Lauper uses her vocals to carve this song into an original. Sultry, sexy, and sassy Lauper’s performance makes her rendition stand out amongst some of the most well-known versions of this country classic.

Skeeter Davis brought “The End Of The World” to the number two spot on the Billboard charts back in 1963. Written by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee, the lyrics refer to the sorrow caused by the passing of Dee’s father. Lauper has this strong ability to connect with a lyric, and vocally emote during ballads. The light little breath that Lauper takes just before singing the final “goodbye” at the end of the song is one of the most musically haunting things you will hear. Full of powerful emotion, Lauper’s vocals were made for these lyrically strong ballads of any genre.

Released in 1960, Willie Nelson found the inspiration to write “Night Life” during one of his trips from home in Pasadena, Texas while on his way to perform at the Esquire Ballroom in Houston. Featuring Nelson as a guest vocalist, Lauper and Nelson take out this toe-tapping country gem, dust it off, and give it a whole new breath of fresh air. Nelson sounds fantastic on this track. The blend of Lauper’s clear and concise vocals paired with the raspy and “smokey-bar” style of Nelson’s vocals is a musical collaboration not to be missed.

“Begging To You” was a smash number one hit for Marty Robbins in 1963. Robbins is still regarded as one of the most successful and popular country solo artists of all time. With a career spanning for more than 40 years, Robbins had his share of successful hits. Lauper reaches deep down for her inner Robbins. Pulling out that falsetto with ease, “Begging To You” is another stand up track on Detour.

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty were one of the most successful duos in country music. “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” was never a chart topping success for the dynamic duo, but was an up-beat and humorous fan favorite. Vince Gill joins Lauper on this original rendition. Gill has the ability to breeze into everything he does with such ease. Lauper and Gill take advantage of the tongue and cheek lyrics and pay homage to the two country legends by cutting loose and having fun.

“I Fall To Pieces” is the second time we hear the names Patsy Cline and Harlan Howard on this project. Penned with fellow songwriter Hank Cochran in 1961, “I Fall To Pieces” quickly became one of Cline’s largest and most beloved hits. Lauper approaches the song with respect, tradition, and serves up some of her silkiest and smoothest vocals on Detour.

Recorded in 1935 by Patsy Montana, “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart” has become a country and western staple still performed by artists today. If you think you are going to hear Lauper yodeling on this track, think again. Lauper recruited the talents of Jewel to perform those strong yodeling solos. Who knew Jewel could yodel? Lauper and Jewel complete this track by pairing their unique vocal abilities to complement each other’s vocal strengths.

Written by Carol Hall for the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, “Hard Candy Christmas” was performed and recorded by Dolly Parton. Featuring Alison Krauss as a guest vocalist, Lauper takes the opportunity to dive deep into another ballad and showcase her ability to emote with her vocals. The raw feelings of the lyrics cut right though each note. Krauss complements Lauper and adds her natural and angelic harmonies with total comfort.

Detour contains some of the best vocal work that I have heard from Lauper. I will not argue that Lauper has released some stellar projects over the past few decades, but her step into a country music styling is definitely anything but a step in the wrong direction. Though Lauper admits she has been a fan of these songs for years, there is a comfort level in her performance that is warm and captivating. Detour is just as comparable to the classic and iconic albums that the original versions of these songs can be found on.

Lauper will be on the road in support of Detour starting with an evening scheduled at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN on May 9, 2016. Lauper has tour dates booked well into the remainder of the year. Check out her tour dates and make sure that you do not miss this icon performing live. Lauper has hinted that some of her original material has been altered to suit the style of Detour. Catching her perform these country classics, and putting a twist on her originals will definitely be a performance you do not want to miss.

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