Album Review: Ernie Vincent – Original Dap King

The title of this album is something of a red herring. Best as I can tell, New Orleans-based guitarist Ernie Vincent has no substantive connection to the Brooklyn-based ensemble that grew out of the Sugarman 3. But Vincent has plenty of credits of his own that impress nonetheless. He and his Top Notes band have provided support for Rufus Thomas, ZZ Hill and many other legendary touring acts. And his latest offering Original Dap King is a fine slice of classic soulful r&b.

Vincent handles all the lead vocals, all the lead guitar work; he leaves the task of leading the band to the estimable Jimbo Mathus. That band is super-tight, but the most remarkable support for Vincent is the backing vocal due of AJ Haynes and Schaefer Llana; they bring the New Orleans funk to the proceedings. The arrangements are deep-groove funky, and the tunes are first rate. Catchy, hypnotic melodies abound, and Vincent’s fiery guitar work is all over the record. The band gets busy in a knotty kind of way on “Possession,” one of the strongest cuts on the disc. And on that number, an unexpected and incendiary guitar solo takes things to another level.

“Guilty as Funk” has a shimmering, early ‘70s party vibe, with a nod toward the kind of instro-with-shouted-chorus approach favored by the Bar-Kays. That tune shows a bit of Vincent’s sense of humor, as does the title of a blistering two-minute blues raver that he has the temerity to call “Blues Filler.” It’s much more than filler! When he plays it slow – as on “Seven Sisters” – the results are tasty and authentic, too. Recommended.