There is an element of Pee-Wee's Playhouse running through Cyndi Lauper's country album, "Detour." Maybe it's just the way she speaks during certain song segments, with that girly Jersey girl-like voice of hers, which causes the listener to expect Cowboy Carl to suddenly show up. It's also due to Lauper's love of musical kitsch. She sings "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly" with Vince Gill, and yodels with Jewel during "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" as a tip of the cowboy hat to traditional country and Old West musical stereotypes, respectively.
With that said, though, she harmonizes beautifully with Emmylou Harris on the much more serious "Detour," and sings the lovely Patsy Cline hits "Walkin' After Midnight" and "I Fall to Pieces," revealing a sincere love for high quality, traditional country. While Lauper may wear her hat and boots like its dress up day at grade school, she's also got the pipes to sing a power ballad like "Misty Blue" or invest herself in the desperate sadness of "The End of the World." She also has the good sense to surround herself with some of Nashville's best musicians, as well as A-list vocalists, like Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss.
Lauper sounds like a true sweetheart of the rodeo with her impassioned singing on "Heartaches by the Number," which finds the girl - who has been known to just want to have fun - really digging in and making the song her own. You shouldn't picture Lauper's face when Alan Jackson sings, "Gone Country." "Detour" is not the work of an aging pop star capitalizing on country music's commercial potential. Instead, it comes off more as one woman's tribute to a special American art form.