Fans may think they know Muscadine Bloodline, but with their latest full-length album, Dispatch to 16th Ave., band members Gary Stanton and Charlie Muncaster go beyond their usual creative limits to define their sound and share personal stories. In doing so, they left nothing up to question when it comes to conveying who they want to be and what they want to represent as a band.
Just a few weeks after wrapping their Dyin’ For A Livin’ Tour, the Alabama natives of Muscadine Bloodline sat down with Country Now to discuss their sophomore album, which has been in the works for over a year. The result is Dispatch to 16th Ave,which is out now.
The band is turning a page in their career with this album. After having a “come to Jesus moment” during the writing process, they asked themselves, “what do we want to be? what is Muscadine Bloodline?” Taking a step back from the shotgun approach of releasing their music in singles and short EP’s here and there, they put together this cohesive nine-track collection to deliver to their fans.
“We found the vein of what the record is,” Gary told Country Now. “It’s what both of us collectively want to do; it’s an ode to 90’s country, 70’s country and the singer-songwriters. We’ve really got some depth in there, and we’re talking about more than your surface-level party and breakup songs. We have that too, but we just dug a little deeper.”
Each track on the record effortlessly flows from one to the other, beginning their story with a statement piece, “Dispatch to 16th Ave.” The song follows someone who, similar to Muscadine Bloodline, moved to Nashville to try and live out his dream with confidence and passion at the forefront of his journey. Upon emerging himself in the competitive industry and ultimately feeling the burnout of constantly being told what his music should sound like, he ends up discovering more about himself and he’s reminded why he came to the new city in the first place. Many artists encounter this feeling of defeat, including Gary and Charlie.
“Gary came to me with this idea. He had written a little bit of the song and like a lot of our songs, I immediately fell in love with it and felt connected to it,” Charlie stated. “It really is kind of like our story. You move to town, start navigating the music industry, you’re trying to figure it out and there’s thousands of opinions being thrown at you. It’s just so easy to be hypnotized by what you think is best for you, instead of realizing what’s actually best for you.”
“‘Dispatch’ really hits me in my soul and just feels like the damn truth. It brings a tear to my eye because it feels so personal,” he added.
This song emulates Gary and Charlie’s journey as they took the leap of faith and moved from their homes to Nashville in an effort to turn their love for music into a career while experiencing all the highs and lows along the way.
Between their three latest releases, they’ve got the upbeat twang in “Dyin’ For a Livin’,” the reminisce of Conway Twitty and George Jones in “No, Pedal Steel” and the relatable storyline in “Dispatch to 16th Ave.” These songs, all on different ends of the spectrum, shared a small taste of what was to come with the rest of the album. “No, Pedal Steel” has a special component as Gary challenges himself to step outside of his comfort zone and sing lead vocals. Usually, Charlie is the one who sings lead vocals and Gary is behind the harmonies. “It’s a verse, it’s a chorus and then there’s a chorus with a pedal steel solo. What’s more country than that?” Gary asked.
“It shows off what Gary can do and that’s one of the best parts of being a duo, you get to cheat and have double the help,” Charlie said, supporting his musical cohort.
Hailing from Alabama, both members are “proudly southern” and have a desire to keep their roots close to their hearts throughout their career, hence their name Muscadine Bloodline. On this album, they take their heritage into account as they go beyond just the typical love and heartbreak songs. Since these are staple pieces for their fans, they made sure to include a three-quarter time ballad along with some songs that talk about the other, more difficult side of love, but ultimately, they portray a large variety of narratives.
“In the album, we depict a lot of different things like in ‘Dispatch to 16th Ave.,’ we have a song that’s about being where we’re from, the dichotomy of being from the south and just trying to say something that no else is trying to say,” Gary explained. “That’s the hard part about songwriting, especially in country music. We’re all trying to spin six topics in a different way. There’s a billion ways to skin the cat but at the end of the day, how can we get out of that and bring something fresh to the table?”
“I think fans will be surprised but also just really happy with where the direction is going,” said Charlie. “I think that’ll create more excitement for albums down the road as well.”
As the passionate artists they are, Gary and Charlie are already starting the process of preparing for their next album because according to Gary, “you’re always living a year ahead of the fans.” Muscadine Bloodline will celebrate the release of Dispatch to 16th Ave. with an intimate, acoustic performance of the album front to back, which will be livestreamed from Bobby’s Idle Hour on February 4 at 7pm CT. On February 5, they will step inside the circle for their second performance ever at Grand Ole Opry. The band made their Opry debut in 2018 when they received a standing ovation. This time, they are bringing their touring band with to make the night even more special.