Bunny Sigler – Stand Up
It’s easy to be cynical about songs advocating for the downtrodden or some sort of political position. Bob Dylan once famously stated that songs can’t save the world. Invariably, however, some songs reach their intended wider audience and there are clear reasons why. Much like John Lennon’s “Imagine”, the recent single release from musical icon Bunny Sigler doesn’t offer a ton of specificity but, instead, focuses on unity. It aims for universal resonance and achieves it by appealing to a commonality in all of us. If it was a litany of current events or some screed against a specific or group of figures, there’s no doubt that “Stand Up” would leave a negligible mark on our consciousness. Instead, it provides a well-rounded musical experience while delivering an important message capable of inspiring its intended audience to action and thought alike.
The band and Sigler alike deserve ample praise for their performance on this song. The track ends his most recent studio release and even a cursory listen reveals the attention writers and performers alike paid to getting this all important cut laid down the right way. There are a variety of things going on instrumentally, but the production and musicianship alike are able to tie them together in fluid and highly discreet ways. Sigler’s voice is, likewise, a guiding force in how the arrangement develops in live practice. The band are clearly following his vocal cues and, to an extent, he returns the favor. The most telling connection, however, between musicians and singer is how any noticeable uptick in Sigler’s inspiration level elicits a passionate response in turn from the band. The recording has an impressively live quality and Sigler’s vocal turn crackles with all of the energy of a fire take.
The song’s positive message is perfect for its anthemic qualities, but Sigler doesn’t drench the song in conceptual histrionics. Instead, he touches on themes with the dramatic, deeply felt vocal style that has long been has trademark. He bobs in and out of the mix with an expert fleetness born from decades of hard-won wisdom and innate musicality. His voice is framed spectacularly in the song and, while Sigler is the unquestioned center of the performance, the production style never attempts to place primacy on his vocal at the expense of his fine accompaniment. The tradition of great Philadelphia soul music continues in Sigler’s music, but it is placed in a bracing new sonic context guaranteed to win the style countless new devotees.
The story of Bunny Sigler and his lasting skills is testament to determination and talent outwilling the fickleness of time and taste. There is something true and real in the R&B idiom that generations of music fans have continued responding to. Performers like Bunny Sigler and his ilk stand still as among the first modern artists to fully exploit the potential of the form and their long-ranging creativity still carries considerable potential today. Thank god for the mavericks and iconoclasts in our midst. They challenge and entertain us in the most unexpected of ways.