Review: Muscadine Bloodline Find Their Sound on ‘Dispatch to 16th Ave.’

by Clayton Edwards
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Mobile, Alabama natives Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton came together to form Muscadine Bloodline back in 2015. Since then, they’ve released a whole stack of singles, a handful of EPs, and one full-length album, Burn It at Both Ends. The still-unsigned duo has remained fiercely independent since their inception. However, much of their music sounded – for better or worse – like it could have been a hit on country radio.

Their second full-length album, Dispatch to 16th Ave., dropped today. It sees Muscadine Bloodline leaning into traditional country sounds in their arrangements and authenticity in their lyrics.

Back in October, Muscadine Bloodline spoke to Lyric Magazine about the shift in their sound. They said, “We were always doing exactly what we wanted to do but we were almost trying to fit into certain molds because of the radio or the thought of signing a deal. This new record is the turning of a page to where we are more ourselves creatively.”

So, what does it sound like when Muscadine Bloodline really starts doing their own thing? It sounds like a marriage of Outlaw, Classic, and 90s country.

Standout Tracks from Dispatch to 16th Ave.

Muscadine Bloodline packed this record with nine solid country songs. As I write this, I’m listening to Dispatch for the fourth time today and haven’t skipped a single song. However, I do turn up the volume for a few of them. These are the songs that my neighbors and I will be jamming to for the next few days.

“Dispatch to 16th Ave.”

The title track from this record might make you think of George Strait and Allan Jackson’s “Murder on Music Row.” It should. In that Lyric Magazine interview, Muscadine Bloodline said they listened to that tune and went into “songwriter mode.”

This isn’t just a nod to Strait and Jackson, though. Instead, Muncaster and Stanton told the story of their half-decade career in the music business with this track.

“No, Pedal Steel” The Most Important Comma in Country Music

No, this isn’t Muscadine Bloodline denouncing one of the best things to ever happen to country music. Instead, it’s a heartbreak song in which they talk about how a cryin’ pedal steel can bring all those hard memories right back. “No, pedal steel / Don’t wanna feel / as lonely as I do now.”

“No, Pedal Steel” is a sad, slow waltz with clever songwriting and plenty of steel guitar. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with that combination.

“Dead on Arrival”

Sonically, this tune harkens back to late-70s and early-80s Outlaw Country. The electric guitar is big, fuzzy, and bluesy with just enough Telecaster twang. Lyrically, it’s a tense story about a man who kills his wife’s lover. “You don’t touch another man’s wife/ When you do that dance /  there’s no chance of survival / Dead on arrival.”

With a toe-tapping arrangement and some slick storytelling, Muscadine Bloodline hit the bullseye with this one.

Final Verdict on Muscadine Bloodline’s New Record

Honestly, I think this is the best thing that Muscadine Bloodline has ever done and I’ll keep it in heavy rotation. However, it’s not just a really good country album. It’s also an example of what artists can do when they stick to their guns and make music that they want to make. I’m looking forward to seeing more like this from them.

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