She’s baaaaack! Epic Records artist Cyndi Lauper returned to L.A. to preview her new release, “Hat Full of Stars.”
As is her custom, this pre-release gig was entirely comprised of her new record, from track one to closing, all in order. The only familiar material were the encores, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (with obligatory update, a dance-hallish rap), an a cappella rendition of “True Colors” backed only by a violin, and an impromptu take on Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”
From most acts, this would have been suicidal, but Lauper’s goofy Bette Midler-as-new-wave-chanteuse act has made her very popular with her cult of fans. Stopping in between numbers to chat about her new husband, her movie and her last album, Lauper made the audience feel like intimate buddies.
Her new material is top-notch, to boot. “Hat Full of Stars” erases the dippy ’80s Lauper and replaces that schtick with more reflective, yet not overly sober-sided music, which was the bane of her last album, “A Night to Remember.”
From the quasi-Appalachian stomps mixed with Caribbean melody in “That’s What I Think” to the early ’70s vibe in “Broken Glass” and joyous swipes of “Feels Like Christmas,” this would appear to be her best record since her debut. If it’s not as zany as “She’s So Unusual,” these are different times.
Backed by a crack ensemble of multi-instrumentalists, Lauper seems poised to take up the slack left by Peter Gabriel or Paul Simon as a world beatstress. Who’d have ever envisioned that back in “She Bop” times?