There’s something special about Magnolia Motor Lounge to Dustin Massey. The comfy Cultural District’s garage-turned-venue was the spot where the singer-songwriter initially discovered Fort Worth’s burgeoning music scene after he moved back to Texas from Colorado. Watching acts like the Quaker City Night Hawks and Johnathan Taylor & The Northern Lights was a revelation for him. Something about seeing these artists on MML’s modest but homey stage brought live music into a form of obtainable reality to him, a change from the abstract and otherworldly make-believe fantasy space it had previously occupied in his mind. Seeing shows there was seminal in Massey’s late turn toward his own music career. It seems only natural that that stage would be the one he chose to celebrate the release of his debut album.
“I absolutely love ‘Mags,’ ” Massey said of the beloved club. “It’s my favorite stage to play. It’s like coming home in a way. The crazy thing is, with all that’s been going on, it will be by far the smallest stage we’ve played in the last six months.”
That “all that’s been going on” he’s referring to is the rigorous touring schedule he’s been on since the release of his first single, “Pretty OK,” in March. An artist only three years into his career, Massey guesses he’s played fewer than 60 shows total, but more than half of them have been in the last six months alone. In that span he’s played some honored stages and with some revered artists — like performing at the legendary Gruene Hall with his heroes Quaker City in June — but it’s returning to the slick glass bays of Magnolia that he’s most excited about.
“To say that I’m even a tiny speck in the Texas music scene would be an embellishment or complete hyperbole,” he said. “I’m nobody, but when we come home to Fort Worth to play, for those 60 or 90 minutes, it’s almost just enough to feel like somebody. I almost get a tear in my eye just thinking about it.”
On Saturday, Massey will mark the release of Matter of Time. Recorded at Modern Electric Sound Recorders in the winter of late 2019/early 2020, the 10 tracks were helmed by acclaimed producer Beau Bedford (Leon Bridges, Texas Gentlemen) and with engineering help from Jeff Saenz (The Strays, Paul Cauthen). Opening with a wall of feedback from the raucous, fuzzed-out blues burner “Bad Love,” the album demonstrates that Massey is no twang-addled country crooner. His sound is more rock and blues-based than your average Pat Green impersonator. Distorted guitars, beefy organ, and screaming pentatonic runs are employed in heavy doses. Massey also showcases his tender side with a handful of ballads. The heartfelt “Run” got a bit of a boost as it was written under the mentorship of Fort Worth singer and The Voice fan favorite Luke Wade. But it’s the album closer, “Woman Like You,” that Massey is most excited about finally being heard. Built around a line he started toying with while on a date with his now girlfriend — “I want to be the man that’s wanted by a woman like that” — the tune fittingly caps the album’s themes of growth and resilience and love.
“It’s 100% autobiographical,” Massey said of the lyrical content. “The meat of the sandwich of this record is made up of songs about getting over the past, getting over bad loves, songs about life in general. It’s about letting go and finding a way to believe in yourself, to follow your dreams, and to live the life you want — to just do it.”
With the album about to be heard in full, Massey said it’s a moment he’s been dreaming of for most of his life. Finally taking a chance on music after focusing on straight careers for most of adulthood has been as inspiring as it has been humbling for him. The childlike excitement and humility he has for the precious time he’s experiencing right now rolls off him in waves. It’s infectious. It’s the sort of enthusiasm and appreciation for pursuit of a dream that if you could bottle and drink from, they’d likely live forever.
“So many people have helped me keep going to get to this show on Saturday,” he said, “to help me follow this dream wherever it leads. I don’t know what’s in store after this. I don’t know if I’ll just be this Fort Worth dude that plays every once in a while or somewhere in the Texas music scene. I have no idea, and I’m not really worried about it. The album release is the end of the first chapter of whatever this is. Everything after is just icing on the cake because I already feel like I’m on borrowed time.”
Dustin Massey album release
7pm Sat w/Austin Upchurch at Magnolia Motor Lounge, 3005 Morton St, FW.