Bunny Sigler – White Christmas
It is, perhaps, a bit surprising that Bunny Sigler has never turned his attention to holiday themed music in the course of his long career. Yuletide tunes are always popular and there’s invariably a high interest in hearing venerated singers turn their talents towards re-interpreting standards, even if they are of the Christmas variety. Many, even experienced singers, opt for hitting all the expected turns in these sort of songs – playing on the audience’s sentimentality in songs like this is the lowest common denominator a singer can aim for and their audiences will walk away happy. Sigler does much more. His “White Christmas” reinvents this venerable and seemingly elastic holiday classic once again by filtering it through the unique prism of Sigler’s personality and musical vision.
The arrangement has a languid, mid-tempo saunter that allows room for backing vocals and Sigler’s own singing to invent and roam freely. The mix of piano, keyboards, guitar, and percussion and subtle sound effects creates a fully-realized atmosphere. It is accomplished through the compositional approach each instrument takes – there’s no specific moment in the song when one of the players steps forward. Instead, they are concentrating on forming a single, cohesive musical mood and it gives Sigler a memorable platform from which he can make the deepest impact on listeners. The production surrounds everything with a warm glow and renders each instrument with clarity. It likewise highlights the main and backing vocals alike without ever obscuring the music. This places the two primary elements of the song in virtually perfect harmony with one another and accentuates the classic melody both vocally and musically.
Sigler shows his superiority as a singer with his ability to find the soft lulls and spots in the arrangement where his voice can complement the instruments best. The backing vocals are used in a call and response sort of fashion – Sigler’s voice never requires reinforcement. Their addition adds a lot to the melodic strength and strikes a lightly dramatic contrast with Sigler’s singing. His phrasing is unparalleled with this kind of material – he deliberately draws out each passage to cast an enchanting effect over the listener and, placed against the sharply soulful qualities of the music, his achievement is considerable. There’s such a wonderfully untrammeled sound to Sigler’s voice. It sounds completely untouched by the passage of time and inhabits each word with a singleness of purpose and tremendous grace.
This first single from the upcoming seasonal album When You’re in Love at Christmas Time bodes well for the overall quality of the release. Bunny Sigler’s long career is full of gems, but this one will likely stand out as a particularly lustrous jewel for its uniqueness and glow. The deceptive sophistication and style of this song moves far beyond the by-the-numbers renditions that too many often offer the music buying public. Like everything else he does, Bunny Sigler impresses on “White Christmas” the same talent and, above all else, sincerity that has defined the vast body of his work.