Here is a rather makeshift post I just wrote on the cyndilaupernews forum that I think articulates my feelings on some of Cyndi's most recent studio albums in a better context than writing a faux-enyclopedia article:
I think Brink was her best collection of songs since her debut - I felt the same about Shine, and also Sisters. What all 3 of these records had upon their release were songs that could compete with songs that were popular on the radio at the time.
Circa 1996/7 we had Sheryl Crow, Alanis and Joan Osbourne all having big hit singles with songs that were folksy chills (One of Us=Hot Gets A Little Cold), vitriolic from a melodic sensibility (You Oughta Know/You Learn=You Don't Know/Love To Hate), or sultry ballads (If It Makes You Happy=Fall Into Your Dreams), whilst Cyn still retained a sense of her uniquely appealing eccentricity (Brimstone & Fire).
It is less easier to do this for the Shine era as music wasn't selling as strongly and there were less defined categories for artists such as Cyndi to slot into. However, it just so happened that Shine was revving up the same engine as her best 80s work. Shine the track was something totally different: the gallant vocals of her dance covers were put to use on a track that was unequivocally the Cyndi people would recognise, it updated her sound without being a disorientating shift of direction (something Brink alienated some people because of). The Anna Nicole tribue obviously drew flattering comparison to Money Changes Everything, but it was totally relevant to what was happening at the time - the design of 'mediocrity' as somehow qualified to be a 'star' was something Cyndi totally enjoyed ripping into, her yelps waywardly skidding between mocking indignance or sheer abandonment within the music itself. She even successfully dabbled in rnb with This Kind of Love, which could have been a TLC track almost. Not one but two aquatic misty ballads (Water's Edge, Eventually) and the very Cher-sounding Higher Plane. Considering how right Cyndi got all these tracks (only the deadpan Waiting For Valentino is the nearest to being an actual dud), screw Jan Pulsford for not getting this record.
Brink was even more contemporary than anything else she had ever recorded. Into The Nightlife hit you like a bunsen-burner - it was an all or nothing track (sadly the video was just a disaster), the loitering verses weren't much but the chorus was her most effective outburst since 'they just-a-wanna'. The stoic Lay Me Down was almost as good as the brittle tenderness of With Every Heartbeat (the Robyn song was very Cyndi to start with), with a really perfect vocal. The simmering stir-fry tosser Rocking Chair and the languid High & Mighty SHOULD have been amazing songs - as they are, they require better edits, being either too drawn out or lacking a tighter organised structure. Echo was similar to eurodance acts Livin Joy and Love Inc (who were Canadian incidentally) so potential was there. And Grab A Hold could have fit perfect on her 1st and 3rd 80s albums. Then we get the token ballad Rain On Me, which is even more moist and distilled than Time After Time, and swayed to the beat of Kim Carnes Bette Davis Eyes so dreamily.