Muscadine Bloodline released their sophomore album, Dispatch to 16th Ave., on Friday, February 4. The nine-track project both showcases the duo’s raw and honest songwriting and opens a new chapter of their music: one that is free from boundaries and entirely authentic to them.
The duo, comprised of Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton, sets the tone of the album by kicking it off with the ultra-country title track, which chronicles the pressure young artists may feel to change their sound. In the tune, the duo calls falling to this pressure “another murder on music row.” While not quite a critique of modern country music, the song comments on the evolution of the genre and the perceived lack of space for traditionally-leaning artists.
“It’s almost autobiographical because we’ve been in those meetings, we’ve had those things, and we were just kind of like, ‘Hey, let’s write a song from this guy’s perspective,’” Stanton shared with The Nashville Briefing. “I think there’s plenty of artists, guys and gals out there, that have gone through the same kind of thing. Those are the people who it’s really resonated with: young, up-and-coming artists.”
“This business can grind on you a little bit,” adds Muncaster. “It’s not easy, it’s not for everybody, and we tried to touch on that ugly part of the industry as much as anything in this song.”
The title track tells the story of independent artists like themselves, but it also cements the duo’s commitment to making the music that is true to them. That commitment is clear in the production of the title track, with its red dirt-inspired sound and swinging rhythm, as well on the rest of the project.
As the album continues, each song flows seamlessly into the next with each showcasing a different iteration of the gritty, country-rock sound created by the duo and producer Ryan Youmans. Muncaster and Stanton exhibit their rock influences with the arena-ready “Dead On Arrival,” a rollicking tune in which the main character unleashes his wrath on the man who cheated with his wife.
“How can you write a song about killing someone and have it not be rocking?” says Stanton. “You just write to the song. That’s really what it all boils down to. It’s all about the song.”
Other standout songs include “Dyin’ For a Livin,’” a fast-paced narrative on the country music lifestyle, and “No, Pedal Steel,” a lonesome, steel guitar-filled heartbreak tune directed at the ultimate sad song instrument itself. The duo also give credit to their Mobile, Alabama roots with “Southern” and “Down In Alabama,” two songs that paint vivid pictures of the Southern life they love.
With each track on the album being written by the duo and their circle of collaborators —including Brent Cobb, Adam Hood, Casey Beathard and more — the album speaks to who Muscadine Bloodline is and where they’re going as a duo. And according to Muncaster and Stanton, they won’t be veering away from that lane anytime soon.
“‘Dispatch to 16th Ave.’ is the turning of a page,” says Stanton. “We’ve been known, if you go through our discography, to have a sort of shotgun approach — ‘For this project we’ll do this, for this project we’ll do this.’ But with ‘Dispatch,’ here is where the ship is coming into port. This is the Muscadine Bloodline that you’re getting.”