Happy 10th Anniversary to Cyndi Lauper’s ninth studio album Bring Ya to the Brink, originally released May 27, 2008.
By 2003, after a temporary leave of absence, Cyndi Lauper had come home to Epic Records.
It was the label that launched her to superstardom on its sister imprint, Portrait, 20 years beforehand with She's So Unusual (1983). Lauper, ever the stirring, infectious force, convincingly recast herself as a “legacy act” as heard on At Last (2003) and The Body Acoustic (2005). The two covers records—one serving classic pop staples, the other serving reworkings of her own charters—were pragmatic entries favoring a music marketplace drastically changed since her start.
Amid the recycled material on The Body Acoustic were two freshly minted compositions, “Above the Clouds” and “I'll Be Your River,” each a testament to Lauper's songwriting strength. While At Last and The Body Acoustic were done in her own irrepressible style, Lauper was ready to get back to work on drafting an album of new material, her first since Shine (2004). Initially set for a 2001 release domestically via Edel Records, an independent label, the company collapsed and Shine was scuttled.
Around this time, Epic's offer came down the pike and Lauper accepted. Caught in the slipstream of negotiations between Lauper and Epic was Shine. Epic felt that a more affable reintroduction to the American public was a shrewder decision and recording sessions for At Last were soon underway. Shine got the greenlight for a limited unveiling in Japan. New wave and electronica/dance had been modest muses for that affair, but the latter overtook the former on Lauper's soon-to-be ninth LP, Bring Ya to the Brink.
Lauper and dance music hadn't been total strangers. Previous uptempos had been made over for countless 12” inch expansions, remixes and the like. Then, there was her Grammy nominated rendition of The Trammps’ gem “Disco Inferno” in 1999 featuring handsomely in the Will Ferrell/Chris Kattan comedy vehicle and its soundtrack, “A Night at the Roxbury.” However, she'd never explored it via an entire album.
And so, in 2007, Lauper left America for England and Sweden to seek collaborations with a cross-section of dance music's best and brightest. Answering her call were Max Martin, Basement Jaxx, Dragonette, Kleerup, Digital Dog, John Bobäck, Richard Morel, Peer Åström, The Scumfrog and Axwell. All of them joined with Lauper to pen and produce for Bring Ya to the Brink.
At twelve tracks deep—fourteen on the Japanese pressing—Bring Ya to the Brink hosts the singer-songwriter's trademark idiosyncratic nerve and wit ensconced in clubby aural set pieces such as “High and Mighty,” “Into the Nightlife,” and “Rocking Chair.” This trio of cuts open the LP, their respective harlequin production flair running wild and free.
Despite the dance overhead of Bring Ya to the Brink, Lauper left herself space to play with other genres too, but suffused them with the urgency of the record's ruling genre current. So, as the listener makes their way deeper into the LP, that sense of immediacy never leaves the proceedings, even if there's a variance in tempo as heard on the synth-pop ballad “Echo” or the digital soul banger “Lyfe.”
The lyrics and vocals of the collection are evenly matched to the eclecticism of its sonics. There are love songs (“Grab a Hold”), protest pieces (“Raging Storm”), anthems (“Set Your Heart”) and homages to hedonism (“Into the Nightlife”). All of them are appropriately dressed by Lauper's singing, depending on what each cut demands.
Though their tones are vastly different, Bring Ya to the Brink was Lauper at her most uniform and flavorful since Hat Full of Stars (1993). Yet, was the world ready to receive this project and gift it with the success that it deserved?
Epic Records rolled out Bring Ya to the Brink in late May of 2008. In that same year, the long player spun off three commercial singles in “Set Your Heart,” “Same Ol' Story” and “Into the Nightlife.” Lauper enthusiastically threw herself into the promotional rounds and an extensive touring cycle. Critically championed, Bring Ya to the Brink only managed minor ripples commercially bringing to an end Lauper's sophomore tenure at Epic Records.
Nonetheless, the intention of her return there had been realized by placing the vocalist/writer back into the public consciousness—sans nostalgia. Soon after Bring Ya to the Brink, Lauper secured label deals for her next two albums in 2010 (Memphis Blues) and 2016 (Detour). More importantly, it helped Lauper transform her passion project “Kinky Boots” into a Tony Award winning musical in 2013.
Bring Ya to the Brink represented Cyndi Lauper again reaching another career pinnacle as an inimitable vocalist, imaginative songwriter, and consummate collaborative professional. Effectively, it was a patented Cyndi Lauper masterpiece.