Sisters Of Avalon

Cyndi Lauper

Epic, 1997

http://www.cyndilauper.com

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/25/2014

After the disastrous failure of Cyndi Lauper’s fourth album Hat Full Of Stars, the artist was unfazed in her decision to stop courting the pop market and just write from her heart and hope that it would be accepted. Creatively, this would be so important to Lauper, as it would see her fully realize her songwriting potential; she also began to take her singing more seriously. 

In the liner notes for her fifth album, Sisters Of Avalon, Lauper mentions that is was her disappointment with her vocal performances on Hat Full Of Stars that caused her to seek out a singing coach to help her gain more control of her voice. It worked a treat because the resulting disc is without a doubt the best thing Lauper has done since her debut, 1983’s She’s So Unusual.

The fact that by 1997, Cyndi Lauper’s fan base had completely deserted her and the mainstream wouldn’t touch her material with a twelve-foot pole matters not in the grand scheme of things. But it is a crying shame that hardly anyone even heard, let alone bought this record. The album has a harder edge to it, with Lauper taking aim at the industry that had promised her so much and delivered so little in recent years to her.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Musically, the album is her most focused and coherent. The indie rock inspiration blends seamlessly with touches of electronica and R&B expressions, which all culminates in a fantastic sounding album that sounds so fresh today you could be mistaken for thinking it is brand new.  The record is just packed with songs that find Lauper working through her anger and resentment: “Love To Hate” and “You Don’t Know,” her frustration and heartbreak at the lack of movement on the AIDS epidemic on “Say A Prayer,” and even her melancholy with “Unhook The Stars.” 

Lauper’s ode to a hard-working, hard-living drag queen, “The Ballad Of Cleo & Joe,” is backed by a fantastic, relentless groove. The album also has some beautifully sensitive moments, such as the acoustic-based ballads “Fall Into Your Dreams” and “Hot Gets A Little Cold.” The driving title track and the poppy “Brimstone And Fire” deliver more highlights, as does the ambient “Searching” and the murky “Mother.” The emotional depth that Lauper finds on “Fearless” is inspiring to say the least and is easily the album’s most moving moment. 

Sisters Of Avalon should have been Cyndi Lauper’s critical and commercial crowning achievement (her Ray Of Light, if you will), but for reasons unknown to me, it wasn’t meant to be. Lauper even hit the road again supporting the U.S. leg of Tina Turner’s Wildest Dreams Tour to help push album sales and remind the public that not only was she still living, but she had just pulled off a great work of art. But it was all to no avail. The fact remains, however, that this is a truly great album and I still get as much out of it now as I did way back in ’97 when I took it home and played it that first time.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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