Fine musicianship and some new directions from Madrid-based multi-genre Track Dogs.
Long-time favourites on the live music scene from festivals to club gigs, Madrid-based Track Dogs reached their 15th anniversary as a band in 2021, and have built a very distinctive sound, drawing on folk, Americana, and jazz, but with left-field overtones from Harold Brown’s distinctive contribution on trumpet. The band lineup is completed by Garrett Wall on guitar, ukelele, piano and vocals, Robbie K. Jones on banjo, cahon, panderetas, vocals and percussion, and Dave Mooney on bass, mandolin and vocals, with Brown also contributing flugelhorn and vocals. An international line-up, with Wall and Mooney hailing from Ireland, Brown from England and Jones from the USA, Track Dogs draw on these and wider musical heritages, while creating a sound that is uniquely theirs. Opening track on ‘Where to Now‘, their seventh album, ‘Every Dog’s Day’ is instantly recognisable as a Track Dogs number, up-tempo, with those characteristic trumpet fills, and energised harmony vocals soaring away on the choruses, supplemented here to good effect with strings. And there are some nice touches of humour in the lyrics – “To err is only human/From the first breath in we’re losin’/Anybody tells you different/You just know it’s wishful thinking/And they’d be wrong/But after all that’s what we are/I’m surprised we’ve even got this far/Bipedal but by golly/Aren’t we fond of all this folly/And we’re wrong, so wrong“.
Although several other tracks sit in the familiar Track Dogs style, the album title ‘Where to Now?’ hints at new directions, and indeed these are to be found too. In part, these are launched by well-chosen musical collaborators and guests, notably on ‘Donna Lola’, based on a larger than life character born in Sligo, but destined to pursue an exotic life as a chameleon finding her way to fame and fortune wherever she travels, delivered with aplomb by Sligo native Cathy Jordan, and with a musical arrangement that spans Celtic folk and Cajun. ‘She Sang Songs’ is a mid-tempo hymn to the unsung female singer-songwriters, featuring delightful harmonies, reminiscent of Crosby Stills and Nash, as they sing “She sang songs of a different time/Pictured faces long left behind/She used words I could never find/And in spilling her heart she filled up mine.”
The set features one well-chosen cover, James Taylor’s ‘Carolina in My Mind’, again with delightful harmonies. The band’s affinity with Celtic roots is at the fore on ‘Empty Tracks’ an ode to a recently lost mountain railway in Spain, so reliable it served as an alarm clock, the track featuring a recording of the train itself before the tracks of the title fell silent. “Listen to the whistle blow/See those red and white cars roll/Feel the wheels rounding the narrow gauge curves/I can hear them scream, but just in my dreams/Come back and free my soul.”
Track Dogs are a band who do indeed know where they’re going, this album is a fine addition to their recordings, with songs that are sure to be highlights of their live set on their forthcoming tour.