Bunny Sigler - Lord's Prayer (2008)

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    Every time an artist who earned his or her stripes in secular music decides to make a gospel record, you can almost hear the muttering of the hater. They'll question the artist's motives. And when the artist says that gospel music was his or her first love, you just know the response of the critics will be something along the lines of, "why didn't you follow your heart?" So I'm sure that Walter "Bunny" Sigler got some of that. However, after more than four decades of making hits for an "A list" of soul performers such as Patti LaBelle, the Whispers and O'Jays, Sigler isn't exactly what one could call a musical Prodigal Son who is returning to gospel with his tail between his legs. Heck, the residuals he gets from penning "Somebody Loves You Baby" will likely keep Sigler flush until he meets the Lord face to face.

    Besides, when the listener hears Sigler's loving rendition of the gospel classic "Near The Cross," nobody will doubt his sincerity about gospel music being his first love. Sigler is my senior, but I'm sure that song conjures up the same kind of warm memories in both of us. I can recall going to Sunday or Wednesday night prayer meeting with my grandmother and hearing the deacon's rich baritone ring out the first line of the congregational hymns chorus and then - like clockwork - two dozen voices joining in. If Sigler has similar memories - and after listening to the rollicking foot stomper "Honky Tonk Music" I'm sure that he did - I know why he added "Near The Cross" to the album.

    I'm definitely glad that he did. I sometimes wish gospel artists would sing more of these old songs, and the fact that Sigler picked out this particular tune is evidence that something touched him when his mother took him to that "Baptist church up on the hill." Although, Sigler opens up The Lord's Prayer with three remakes, the balance of the album becomes a platform for Sigler to use all that he learned creating worldly music to give something back to God.

    "He Walked On Water" is a great piece of storytelling in which Sigler expresses how Jesus can transform a person from a sinner into a saint. That song also uses a laid back and ultra-modern groove that is anything but dated. Sigler takes a post apocalyptic tone on the tune "Dropped The Big One." In this funk-rock fusion, Sigler sings from the view of being the last man on earth in this story of the ultimate result of man's misuse of God's creation.

    The blusey "Lordie, Lordie" is another highlight that showcases the strengths of this varied and very good record. For one thing, the song is relevant. It talks about how crises often force even the most hard core sinner to call on the Lord. Also, the song's simple but well-written lyrics and peppy beat will leave listeners nodding in agreement and patting their feet.

    The Lord's Prayer is a very good gospel album by Sigler, a man who made a name for himself by creating some very good and memorable secular music. If Sigler decides to make gospel music his permanent creative home, it will be R&B's loss because one listen to The Lord's Prayer will be enough to convince anybody that Sigler is a top notch writer and arranger in any genre. Recommended.

    Howard Dukes