Dirty Word, the third studio project from New Orleans’ Dumpstaphunk, is soaked in the city’s funky waters. Recorded in the band’s hometown, the album as well as the band’s shows confirm the group’s status as a top practitioner of modern funk, R&B and soul. New Orleans’ music legacy, too, resonates anew in Dumpstaphunk.
Marking its 10th year this year, Dumpstaphunk usually has been identified as Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. Neville, son of singer Aaron Neville, sings and mans Dumpstaphunk’s keyboards, including the Hammond B-3 organ. Another Neville family member, Ian, son of Art Neville, contributes icy bright guitar leads and rhythm plus rock riffs that Lenny Kravitz would be proud to play. The band also features drummer Nikki Glaspie and the double-bass attack of Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III.
Everyone sings except Ian Neville. With four voices in the mix, the tougher tracks on Dumpstaphunk’s Dirty Word recall Sly and the Family Stone’s multiple voices. The group’s sleeker vocal excursions suggest Earth, Wind, & Fire’s polished ensemble singing.
While funk and jams often define Dumpstaphunk’s music, the group’s collective songwriting and instrumental composition frame the voices and instruments and rock and soul into accessible songs. In addition to the many heavy grooves, one boogie number, a homage to blues greats called “Blueswave” comes from out of left field. Social commentary appears in a few songs, too.
Many guests dropped in to complement the Dirty Word sessions. Ani DiFrano adds late-in-the-track vocals to the album’s title song. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea jumps into the rock-oriented “If I’m In Luck.” A roomful of guest stars — Art Neville, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and the Rebirth Brass Band — make the album’s finale, “Raise the Roof,” a brass-band blowout.
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