Charles Tuberville – Somethin’ in the Water
BRT TV/The Tulsa Blues Project
CD: 12 Songs, 39 Minutes
Styles: Tulsa Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs
What distinguishes Tulsa blues/Tulsa sound from, say, Chicago or Texas blues? For one thing, it’s a combination of rockabilly, country, R&R, and blues sounds from the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Originating in its characteristic city in the second half of the twentieth century, its pioneers include JJ Cale, Leon Russell, Elvin Bishop, and Eric Clapton. Charles Tuberville proudly promulgates the tradition on his new album, Somethin’ in the Water. Featuring twelve original tracks, it takes you down the railroad line (check the cover art) to a laid-back, easygoing way of life and musical style. The energy here is low-to-mid-key, suitable for comfy house parties where the volume on one’s speakers need not be turned up to 11.
Out of myriad musicians who strive to make a name for themselves, few are lucky enough to share the stage with genre icons. Charles has been fortunate enough to do this with Leon Russell, Freddie King, Bobby Keys, Johnny Winter, Delbert McClinton, B.B. King and many others. On this album, produced by Walt Richmond (JJ Cale, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton), he is joined by Tulsa legend Rockin’ Jimmy Byfield and Casey Van Beek from Bill Medley and The Tractors. Other featured co-performers are Jimmy Markham and David Berntson on harmonica; bassists Alan Ransom and Jimmy Strader; David Busey on piano, and Steve Hickerson on guitars for “Listen To Your Woman.” Tuberville himself stars on guitar, bass and vocals.
The title track makes its grand entrance first: a relaxed, loping love song about being in a certain mood. Then comes “Went Down Hard,” featuring a terrific slide guitar intro and Joe Walsh vibes. Stomp your feet and savor the shredder solos. It’s so good it could have been the opener. “Dreamin’ About Your Love” features perky piano and slight New Orleans spice mixed in with the Tulsa flavor. 1950’s influences are the clearest on this number. Number Four, “Bumble Bee,” should come with a trigger warning for those who hate the pesky sound of said insects. It’s funny and relatable, especially in the summer. Another highlight is “Howlin’ Boogie,” a surefire sing-along hit. David Berntson’s harmonica is especially catchy, as is David Busey’s piano on “Lucinda.” The latter song is reminiscent of the tracks of The Tractors, a ‘90’s Tulsa sensation. For those who’d like to slip into a slower, more atmospheric groove, “Soul Traveler” fits the bill. One can imagine it featured in an indie film or Miami Vice episode. It’s also a nice slow-dance. “Things to Do” is a boogie for busy people. If your morning coffee can’t wake you, try this.
Somethin’ in the Water is a commendable showcase of Tulsa blues by a veteran of the scene!