It’s always good to hear new music from Track Dogs, particularly after the two years we’ve all just experienced. In common with a lot of recent releases, this is partly a lockdown creation and it’s another album that shows the way the creative impulse finds way under, above and around barriers. Instead of being hemmed in by enforced isolation, musicians have reached out across the world to become involved with each other’s projects. I always knew we’d find a good use for the internet; it just took a while.

Track Dogs are two Irishmen, and Englishman and an American, based in Madrid. That might sound like plenty of roots reference points right there from the English, Irish and American traditions, not to mention the Latin influences introduced by Howard Brown’s trumpet and flugelhorn. This time there’s a cover thrown in as well, a midtempo version of James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind”, which has even had a nod of approval from JT.

If you’ve heard the two previous albums, you’ll have some idea of what to expect of “Where to Now?”. Loads of variety in the musical arrangements and the lyrical themes, great instrumental performances and lovely four-part harmonies that hint at Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The title song hints at the uncertainties we all currently face, while framing the lyrics as advice to someone to carry on with their chosen path; we’re all facing uncertain futures now, personally and in wider society. The other thing you can expect from a Track Dogs album is the unexpected; something a little out of the ordinary.

“Donna Lola” is a great example. It’s a zydeco-tinted arrangement that rattles along at a high tempo as it tells the story of Lola Montez and her life and many loves. It’s driven along by some strident accordion and a guest vocal from Cathy Jordan; it’s impossible not to be drawn into the whirlwind. The song ends with a spacey psychedelic fadeout heavily soaked in reverb before dying away; it’s a strange and memorable close to a monster of a song. The album’s closing song (not counting the two bonus tracks) “Empty Tracks” is full of rhythms and sounds that imitate a train’s movement and sounds and it’s inspired by the hush that fell on the railroads in the days of the first lockdown; it’s not often that you discover an artist’s muse is a train.

The remaining songs on the album are packed with rhythmic and melodic invention based around the folk traditions of England, Ireland and America. Bluegrass features prominently, but there are elements of Latin rhythms and string sections to add some extra spice to the musical stew. You won’t be bored listening to “Where to Now?”.

And there’s more good news. Track Dogs are in the UK to promote the album this month. You can find the tour dates here. I have a feeling that they’re going to be even better live than on record, so try and catch them while you can.

“Where to Now” is out now on Mondegreen Records (MGRO122).

Here’s a link to one of the album’s two bonus songs, “At a Time Like This”: