The Body Acoustic

Many rockers lose their fire and much of their vocal range while journeying through middle age. But the ever-unusual Cyndi Lauper now sings with more power, more nuance and with more notes at her disposal than she had at her mid-Eighties popularity peak. The former New Wave poster girl's The Body Acoustic brings hard-won beauty to both her overly familiar and unjustly ignored songs. Lauper's miraculous Top Ten ode to female masturbation, "She Bop," now sounds moody and almost religious, its slurred lyrics here slowed for can't-miss-'em comprehensibility. The later non-hits are just as revelatory: The new "Above the Clouds" floats on dreamy Jeff Beck guitar featured in a delicate arrangement that picks up where "True Colors" left off. Lauper's continued progression into quieter material may have left her mainstream rock fans behind years ago, but it has clearly improved her chops.