track dogs album coverComposed of two Irishmen (Garrett Wall & Dave Mooney), an Englishman (Howard Brown) and an American (Robbie K Jones), Track Dogs are a multinational folk pop quartet based in Madrid. Released last October, ‘All Roads’ is the band’s second album under the moniker of Track Dogs, having released two albums previously as Garrett Wall Band.

It’s the band’s city of residence rather than any of their countries of birth that has the biggest influence on their sound with several tracks on this album coming with a distinct Latin flavour. The flavour is mostly provided by the exquisite trumpet playing of Howard Brown. Replacing the lead guitar, it dominates several tracks giving songs such as Rainbox and La Bamba an added dimension that separates them from your run of the mill pop song. In another nice touch the band have replaced the drums with a cajon (flamengo box drum), which further adds to the Latin feel.

As well as a Latin flavouring, there’s a real upbeat, feel good factor to this album. Even the world’s biggest miserabilist would do well not to crack a smile listening to the likes of Dust Devil or Sun Shine Down, a pair of toe-tapping folk numbers.  At times the cheeriness is overbearing; the over wrought Fooled You Once could  do with toning down the optimism a bit. The albums worst song, it brings to mind Shiny Happy People by R.E.M, which certainly isn’t a good thing.  It’s not all smiles though, the band even out the mood slightly with a few downbeat numbers. Though the album’s string laden closer Early Late is impressive, the band seem less comfortable at a slower pace with both Slow Start To The Day and Whoever The Fool  feeling redundant in comparison to the more lively tracks.

While there’s nothing ground-breaking about this album and it’s by no means perfect, there’s something refreshing about it’s complete lack of pretence, with the band making no attempt at trying to be cool. This is an unashamedly pop record and while that might not be the most fashionable of moves, it makes for a fun listen.