It’s always exciting when a fully formed new talent seems to appear out of nowhere, and that’s how it felt when Tre. Charles’s debut single landed in our inbox.
Charles, a 29-year-old indie-soul musician in Durham, is currently preparing his first EP, from which “Stressin.” is the title track and lead single.
The production is impeccably understated, consisting mainly of guitar scrimshaw, hissing electronic hi-hats, and the occasional upwelling bass. Yet it feels rich and full, thanks to the halos of harmony shining from Charles’s voice, which is naturalistic even when subtly extended with reverbs and delays.
Though Charles shrewdly keeps his moody, implacable melody uncluttered, he also decorates it with imaginative details—a bit of backmasked guitar here, a pitched-down syllable there—that stand out all the more sharply for their judicious placement.
His singing, slow as oil yet light as air, suffuses the arrangement with an atmosphere of weary resilience, as if Charles is casually carrying the weight of the world.
This is apt, as “Stressin.” is a meditation on the perils and pressures of being young and Black in America. It’s also a poised debut of deceptive simplicity, disarming delicacy, and transfixing clarity that comes highly recommended to fans of Frank Ocean, James Blake, and the local 21st-century-soul exemplar XOXOK. It speaks volumes about Charles’s vocal talent that the wordless hook of “Stressin.” is the stickiest part, and we can’t wait to hear the EP.
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