Cyndi Lauper, with her 80s pop classics like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Time After Time, and She Bop, had us dancing and singing along; however, it isn’t until this last decade with 2003’s album of standards At Last, 2005’s The Body Acoustic, and 2008’s dance extravaganza Bring Ya to the Brink, that she’s had listeners realizing how great she really is. Her voice is a natural force and she can really hit those notes. Not everyone can sing “At Last” but Cyndi can, and her version is my favorite.
Now she’s signing the blues. With her recently released Memphis Blues, she pays homage to the Delta and is joined by great musicians, including the blues legend B.B. King.
As soon as you hear the opening bars of Charlie Musslewhite’s harmonica on the first track, “Just Your Fool,” you know you’re in for something pretty cool. The playful piano of Allen Toussaint is featured on three tunes; B.B. King lends his guitar and vocals on “Early in the Mornin’,” and Ann Peebles duets with Lauper on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” one of the standout songs on the album. Her best partner though, is Jonny Lang, the 29-year-old who has always been talented beyond his years. Their vocals and Jonny’s guitar licks make “How Blue Can You Get?” and “Crossroads” sizzle. Her solos “Down So Low,” “Romance in the Dark,” and “Shattered Dreams” are scorchers!
Blues music, as does the city itself, brings out the best in Lauper. She dedicates this album to “the early blues artists who traveled through the cross roads, suitcase in hand, to Memphis.” On Memphis Blues, Lauper has reinvented herself and has confirmed her true artistry yet again. She’s singing those blues as though she’s lived them!