Cyndi Lauper – Memphis Blues

I must admit, I got a little excited at first mention of the 11th studio album from one of my favourite 80s pop icons. ‘She’s still going? What a pocket rocket!’ I thought. Memphis Blues, weird title, but whatevs, she’s known for being kooky but brilliant.

Then I put it on. Big mistake.

It’s Cydni… in a lacklustre explosion of country western gospel blues nonsense. Ugh. It actually pained me to listen past the first 30 seconds. But regrettably, I did.

Once you get past the genre shock, it’s actually interesting listening. Hearing Lauper’s style of high-pitched, cutesy-punk vocal on a blues record is oddly fascinating. Yet she naturally has an upbeat tonal quality about her voice, and, well… blues ain’t about girls having fun. Apart from that, the most that stands out about her performance are her crazy vocal licks, reminiscent of Bette Midler’s un-dead warbling in kids horror flick Hocus Pocus. It scared me in 1993 and it’s still scaring me now.

The album redeems itself somewhat with its impressive line up of contributing artists, who obviously understand the dynamics of blues a bit better than Miss Cyndi. Allen Toussaint, Ann Peebles, B.B. King, and Jonny Lang are all among the dynamo band, which holds this record together. If it weren’t for the overpowering, ill fitting femme vocals, we might have ourselves a total winner. The few tracks featuring duets with Lang illustrate this perfectly.

Look I’m sure Cyndi Lauper really digs her gospel, soul and blues… but for the sake of the art; please, please put it away lady.

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