Legendary Bunny Sigler releases “Bundino”
Veteran artists enjoy some rewards, but they frequently pale in comparison to the minefield they navigate attempting to stay relevant. Anytime out of the spotlight is a further problem. Bunny Sigler has enjoyed critical and widespread fan respect since his debut in the late 1950’s, but legendary status doesn’t buy anyone continued commercial appeal. The story of the music business is always a narrative of change, but certain truths hold. Popular song of every stripe is a young person’s art consumed, predominantly, by the young and anything past thirty is little more than a well-preserved, hopefully, relic.
Sigler’s album Bundino hopes to buck this truth and takes predictable routes attempting to pull it off. The opening songs, “Let’s Start The Show” and “I’ve Been There Before”, are occasionally interesting clashes between Sigler’s R&B roots and current tempos. The contrast of his singing against a rapper’s performance isn’t entirely favorable to either vocalist. “She’s Got The Good Stuff” turns things around with its back to basics approach and deep groove that band and singer alike get full value from. “Now I Gotcha, Got You Back” has a novelty air about it, like it’s some sort of self-referential spoof of itself, but perhaps the song’s predictability seems a little improbable otherwise. It reveals a larger problem with the album’s length and the weakened quality that results when artists are forced or choose to inflate albums with clear outtakes.
“Lavada” is quite an affecting number with a seductive simmer and Sigler’s vocals talents on display in new ways. The musical backing doesn’t veer far afield of the song’s needs, if at all, but this perceived limitation actually frees Sigler to extemporize and play over the top of such a dependable foundation. “When I Think Of You” takes great care to invoke a certain mood before Sigler enters with a tender and careful vocal. It’s a joy to hear great singers guiding you with their full commitment to every word and the singing is among his finest on Bundino.
Don’t think too hard about “Call 911” and you’ll be okay. Many will enjoy it. An equal amount will hear it as a silly joke song meant to get the album a little mainstream attention. It goes too far, as well, towards dating Sigler in less than desirable ways. “Forgive and Forget” is a sexy slow-burner in the tradition of Barry White, but Sigler’s turn with this tradition produces less overwrought results. This song might escape notice as one the album’s underrated strong points, but the note-perfect backing and Sigler’s equally attentive vocal are evocative and memorable.
Missteps big and small mar Bundino, but it ends up a largely successful attempt to bring Sigler into the larger pop music conversation. His singing remains at an absurdly high level for his 79 years and his continued ease with adjusting and trying new things will help keep his place at the table for as long as he remains among us. Great singers like this are a fading group and Bundino reminds us of what makes Sigler great.