Entertainers fade while true performers endure and evolve. Bunny Sigler’s transition from a talented young firebrand and one of Philadelphia soul’s biggest talents into an elder statesman still capable and willing to challenge himself with modern approaches proves essential facts about popular music. Fundamentals steady careers for the long haul and, above all, Sigler’s music merges the sound in his head with the music of the moment with often impressive results. A career that began in 1959 continues with his new album, Bundino.
The opening track, “Let’s Start the Show”, kicks off things with a charmingly self-conscious exhortation and welcome. It also features the first of a handful of cross-genre efforts. Sigler’s impressive range never sounds out of place against the smattering of rap. The second song, “I’ve Been There Before”, continues the genre mixing, but the song leans much more on rapping than the opener. It results in a weaker track since no rapper on the album can emote with Sigler’s conviction. The production obscures his voice a little in a mix of keyboards and percussion, but despite any misgivings, few listeners will consider the song any sort of failure.
One knock against the album is how occasionally predictable songwriting negates Sigler’s vocal talents. An example of that, “Now That I Gotcha, Got You Back”, will startle experienced listeners on a couple of different levels. One of its most impressive aspects is hearing the seventy nine year old Sigler’s glorious voice glide effortlessly through the track. It is equally startling he turns in such a fine performance with so little to work with. Many might argue that a song about winning back an once lost loved one is standard fare, but after countless variations on a theme, we’ve moved far past the point where merely hitting your marks is enough.
“I Don’t Give My Heart” is a fine effort that finds Sigler in more unusual territory. The song’s subject, a man hesitant to trust a woman, is enough to make the song stand out, but Sigler’s nakedly emotional vocal gives it added drama. It is, unfortunately, forced to contend with a cluttered backing track dilutes its potential. “Call 911” seems positioned as an album centerpiece. Sigler tackles unusual subject matter again with its depiction of an elderly man enjoying a threesome with two other women. Time may dim many things, but Sigler’s libido is full of fire. The song tempers that fire some with its main point, namely Sigler’s mock-comic concern for his welfare, and that interesting twist propels the track to another level.
This is the work of a performer still moving, never content with his place in the scheme of things, and possessed with a daring that few of his peers possess. Framing Sigler’s artistry against modern backing results in some defining moments, but the other attempts aren’t nearly as successful. Ultimately, despite its flaws, Bundino is an affirmation of Sigler’s talents.
Purchase Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bundino/id990351839