Bunny Sigler – White Christmas
Since his 1960’s debut, Bunny Sigler’s voice has been featured on an assortment of recordings, solo and otherwise, that stand today as classics of the R&B/soul genre. The Philadelphia native, nicknamed “Mr. Emotion” by admiring fans, exerts an influence that has extended deep into the 21st century long after many of his contemporaries have either died or disappeared into obscurity. His songwriting has been included on recent releases from Jay-Z while he’s continued to write new original solo material and record. His upcoming album When You’re In Love At Christmas Time is Sigler’s entry into a traditional sub-genre that he’s never turned his attention to until this point. “White Christmas” is the first single from this new release and, while Sigler pays due tribute to the song’s long history, he also takes the song for unique turns that many past interpreters have never felt compelled to pursue. This is a musical production fully realized – arrangement and vocalist alike are working in perfect accord towards an ultimate goal.
“White Christmas”, first popularized by early 20th century vocal star Bing Crosby, demands that any new singer defer some to its powerful vocal melody. Sigler’s singing adheres to the vocal melody, but he wrings new reactions from it by phrasing the passages in a very idiosyncratic fashion and falling on certain stresses that earlier vocalists have never pursued. Another critical factor in highlighting his signing and differing it from past performers is the light blue soul filling the musical arrangement contrasting against Sigler’s voice. There’s no need for virtuoso trips and neither the players nor Bunny go after such ends. Instead, Sigler and his occasional backing vocals dramatize the song fully thanks to interplay rather than one talent shining above all others.
The guitars in the song are very tasty, striking in and out of the mix at important points, but never overstaying their welcome. Keyboards and piano intertwine below them in the mix and achieve a beautiful lyricism that elevates the song as a whole. The song’s most important musical element, however, is the top end melodic instruments but, instead, the varied and stylishly handled percussion that turns the song’s dramatic momentum and propels it towards its inevitable conclusion. It never runs too long and even the duration is another example of the discernment and skill that’s went into bringing this song together.
Some people disdain this sub genre of music as a corny cash-in from experienced performers, but it’s quite clear that Sigler never regards it as such. Instead, Sigler takes this song on with the same attention to detail and personality that would power any of his original material and that same fearlessness helps him to own this iconic song as his own. There’s not a single corny note or false moment in this performance. It rings out with warmth, style, and sophistication that few other performers, regardless of genre, can equal.