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Independent - February 14, 1997

by Andy Gill

Like a kookier Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper barges full-tilt here through the door marked 'eclectic'. Just take a look at what she's playing: bass recorder, omnichrd, zither, slide dulcimer -- and that's not taking into account the accordions, horns, harmonium and Japanese banjo which her small studio army wields alongside their vast battery of guitars, keyboards and samples.

It could be a recipe for disaster, but, ably assisted by Mark Saunders -- whose co-production of Tricky's maxinquaye presumably prepared him for just about anything -- and co-writer Jan Pulsford, she carries it off with some style for the most part. The title-track, for instance, bowls in on a wave of massed african-style vocals that calls to mind the mahotella queens, uplifting and anthemic, before Cyndi effects a difficult middle-eight switch to somewhat rockier terrain. elsewhere, 'Ballad Of Cleo And Joe' straddles different areas of the globe, applying snatches of what sounds like balkan accordion to an uptempo blues narrative, while 'Searching' carries her most vulnerable lyric on a trip-hop lope. Despite the ambitious diversity of the music, the most impressive thing about the album remains her voice, which brings a compelling emotionality to the most eccentric of arrangements.

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