Bunny Sigler – White Christmas
When You’re In Love At Christmas Time, the forthcoming album from R&B and soul music legend Bunny Sigler, is poised to end up one of the finest examples of this once a year genre released in recent memory. The opening single from the album is Sigler’s stunning reimagining of “White Christmas”. He doesn’t completely turn the song inside out, but this longstanding classic gets spun in a different direction thanks to Sigler’s desire to surround it with his signature sound and the defining elements of his musical style. This isn’t paint by numbers Yuletide cheer with a low bar to clear for pleasing the listening public. Instead, Sigler tackles this song with the same passion that he brings to his own originals and expends tremendous effort into making this as full of a hearing experience as possible. It has gravitas and light, it has soul and tremendous melody. Even for people who normally pan the Christmas time music genre as too cheesy to take seriously, Bunny Sigler’s take on “White Christmas” will rank high.
Naturally, the primary vehicle for conveying the uniqueness of this interpretation is Sigler’s voice. “Mr. Emotion” has come a long way from his earliest years as one of the pioneers of the classic “Philly soul” school, but his voice remains remarkably untouched. Despite the laid back approach to the song, the vocal demands on material like this aren’t so much as involved with raw power, but technique instead. He reigns supreme in this area as well. The seamless glide Sigler takes through the song never has a single, even infinitesimal, sonic hiccup and makes each passage breathe with its own character and importance. He makes full use of the melodic strengths of the song and the vocal melody, while largely conforming to the original, features stress points and emotive flair that is Sigler’s own.
The rich confluence of guitar, drumming, keys, and piano that bring the song to musical life perfectly interlock and coherently moves from beginning to end. It never goes on too long; running just a little under four minutes in length, Sigler’s “White Christmas” doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t and concentrates on getting over the familiar and individual alike without any moments of self indulgence. The opening of the song is a strong illustration of the skill and taste at work here. It constitutes a mini-overture of sorts that results in a bit of scene setting and musical misdirection. Listeners are stirred to attention while leaving them to likewise believe that the song may, perhaps, take a different direction than it ultimately chooses.
As holiday songs go, Bunny Sigler’s “White Christmas” operates on a different level. It will please even the most sentimental holiday music fans while still finding ground to stand on with those not so enamored of the genre. This vocal master shows no sign, at even the sprightly age of seventy five, of slowing down.