Cyndi Lauper, "Detour" (Sire/Rhino)
Cyndi Lauper's "Detour," a trip into country territory after earlier forays into blues and pop standards, is all over the map, held together by her true north of a voice.
Lauper brings out her trademark hiccups on the opener, rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson's wild and wacky "Funnel of Love," which would have been a great fit on "She's So Unusual," her 1984 smash solo debut.
She tackles several country evergreens on her own, including a pair of Patsy Cline hits — "I Fall to Pieces" and "Walking After Midnight" — but sounds most at ease singing duets with giants of the genre, including the witty title track with Emmylou Harris.
Lauper refuses to take out the curlers but frees up her natural Noo Yakw accent with Vince Gill on "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly," which is sure to draw a smile. Jewel's yodeling on "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" is also a hoot.
If the album's artistic compass seems unsteady, Lauper's splendid abilities as an interpreter are indisputable.
Just as she did when covering Joni Mitchell's "Carey" at a 2000 tribute concert, her version of "Misty Blue," Bob Montgomery's country-and-soul torch song, expertly gauges the composition's emotional depth and conveys it with gusto.
Lauper got great reviews for the songs she wrote for the stage version of "Kinky Boots." This album is fine for a detour, but her talent deserves a parade on Main Street.