Charles Tiner – N’Treble | Album Review

Charles Tiner – N’Treble    


CD: 10 Songs, 41 Minutes

Styles: Soul Blues, Ensemble Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Jazz, All Original Songs

“I’ve got a lot going on, and I’ve got nothing to lose.” This quote, from the second song on Charles Tiner’s latest release, N’Treble, describes it perfectly. It has all the hallmarks of what would have been a fantastic album: vibrant energy, powerhouse instrumentation, and explosive singing from our front man. All the types of tracks you hope for on a soul blues album are here: the addictive sing-along opener (“SugaPie”), a banger of a warning about boasting (“Don’t Write a Check You Can’t Cash,” reviewed below), a paean to down-home cooking (“Dat Soul Food”), and a gorgeous ballad (“No Goodbyes”). Every tune is satisfying soul food for the ear and heart. This is the kind of CD you listen to when you’re feeling low and need not just a pick-me-up, but the aural equivalent of four Starbucks Espresso Doubleshots. The jolt it delivers is that intense. That’s the good news. The bad news is that for some people, such as yours truly, it’s too much. It overwhelms, sending in wave after wave of instrumental and vocal stimuli that combine to form a tsunami. It never lets up, either. From start to finish, you’d better brace yourselves.

On his Facebook page, Tiner describes himself as “a regular guy with a whole lotta soul.” Once you listen to his music, that much is evident. What’s not so evident are his bio details: location, backstory, etc. I did some digging on Google and his website He’s from the (314) area code, which covers St. Louis. That makes sense. His brand of soul lacks the slick pizzazz of, say, NYC or the zydeco influences of Baton Rouge. It’s very down-to-earth, very Midwestern. Meaty. What it lacks in innovative showmanship, it makes up for in passion.

With him are Dean Doss, Conrad Lee, Frank Parker, Art Carey, Sr., Gary Davis, David Lumsden, David Alexander, William “Chilly Bryant,” K. Sanders, Robert H. Sampson III, Ezra Casey, James Armstrong, and Lucas “Luke” Turasky.

Some people are wealthy on paper and in their own mind. In reality, they’re dirt-poor. Charles fervently warns us about this in “Don’t Write a Check You Can’t Cash.” There’s some searing shredder from Conrad Lee on bass and lead guitars. Tiner himself plays organ and keyboards. To me, this song’s best feature is its lyrics: “Some folks think they have it good. They think everything they touch turn[s] to gold. Now they’re stuck when they really open their mouth. Everything seems to turn cold. But you never write a check – whoo! – you can’t cash.” If we follow this advice instead of our desire to make ourselves look better than we are, we’ll be rich.

Charles Tiner’s new CD will keep you jumpin’ all day AND all night. You might be N’Treble!

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