Bunny Sigler – Bundino

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Philadelphia legend Bunny Sigler’s new album, Bundino, is a blockbuster offering. Fourteen songs of sometimes extensive length would be impressive for a much younger performer or band, much less a seventy nine year old Sigler, but he brings unquestionable energy to each of the album’s songs. The production sometimes undermines his contributions with questionable choices in presenting Sigler’s voice, but predictability is Bundino’s biggest issue. Smaller concerns are its hit and miss success with updating Sigler’s style or adorning it with needless effects. Tremendous musicians back Sigler and give the best material even more excitement, but play around him rather than competing with his position.

The album’s first memorable moment comes with the third full song, “She’s Got The Good Stuff”, a swinging and fun tune praising a woman’s attributes. Sigler conveys the song’s message with class and playfulness. The funk charge of “Buttermilk and Cornbread” has a great elastic quality and sounds strongly modern despite its retro form and subject matter. Sigler stretches out vocally on “Lavada” and his relaxed flexibility provides listeners with one of his best singing performances. The surprising “When I Think Of You” seems to take Sigler in a more personal direction than elsewhere on the album and includes a moving depiction of family life seldom heard in music.

“Lavada” is a stylish look back on love lost that, if it turns over familiar ground, nonetheless does so with entertaining sureness. There isn’t much lyrical variation here, but Sigler’s beautiful singing is surrounded by rich harmonies that fill the track with emotion. If songs occupied a spectrum, “When I Think Of You” and “Call 911” are polar opposites. It’s a little jarring to shift from the gentle reflection of the former into the outright innuendo and humor driving the latter. An instantly memorable but inanely simple chorus is the song’s second major selling point and suggests bigger aims for the track. “Forgive and Forget” is the album’s last great moment as Sigler turns back time and offers up a sexy reconciliation ballad ripped straight from the glory days of 80’s R&B.

Bundino sags under its own weight at points, but there’s enough first-rate songwriting here to help this stand out among the thousands of other albums released in a year. Sigler’s vocals are a selling point alone but Bundino’s rewards aren’t vocal alone. The chemistry between singer and band is a big part of why this album works. Bringing Sigler’s music together with modern forms is an organic process and many of the attempts here sound forced.


4/5 Stars

Shannon Cowden