Nick County & The Rainbow Smoke “Cocorico Simpatico Corazón” (Public Works, 2019)

The second album by self-styled Miami cowboy Nick County, ‘Cocorico Simpatico Corazón‘ is a record of mostly roots-rock, songs that one might call Pettyesque or Mellencamp influenced, but there are exceptions. One such kicks the album out of the starting blocks with blaring horns and a tight rock arrangement not so far from Southside Johnny. ‘I Could Wait For You All Night‘ is a straight up tale of unrequited barroom bravado, with a narrator who has a girl in mind if he could only get the nerve up to get off his bar stool “and buy you a drink, it’s been my plan all along.” ‘Cocorico Simpatico Corazón‘ features quite a few such losers – or non-starters – in love, the other major theme is small time losers who’ve not caught a break. We may all be innocent when we dream, but these guys are just dreaming if they think anyone will believe their stories.

Having hit out with a belter, Nick County follows up with a second in the form of ‘If You Still Love Me‘, a breezy laid back, almost yacht rock, love song which sounds a little like early Josh Ritter in both words, music and Nick County’s vocals. There’s a swerve to the left as ‘Pink Huffy‘ launches off on a tongue-in-cheek story of irresponsibility and a Drunk Driving citation which leads to the adoption as a mode of transport of a “Pink Murry, got it for my daughter on her tenth birthday / now she gotta a licence she don’t need it no more”. It does not impress the ladies. However, the very impressive ‘If You Can Forget Me (You Can Forgive Me’) soon hoves into sight – it sees Nick County and the band pulling out all the stops on a plea for forgiveness based on an unarguable logic. It’s a song that pounds along at breakneck speed, glistening with pedal steel and incorporating a few new-wavey vocal tricks all in the cause of the album’s highlight track that glories in twists of phrasing like “If you can forget me you can forgive me / we can be…../gin again“.

The second half of the album shows a slight drop in the imagination – the semi-apologetic ‘Barrel Riding‘ has County with a sparse guitar accompaniment and a scraping vocal which feels like a drunken 2AM phone call – and they’re hard to forgive the first time they happen. And ‘Against Me‘ is a weary cell-block self-justification from a narrator that you kind of suspect is just where they should be. There’s a return to form on the epic ‘Violent Sleeper‘, a disturbing and paranoiac threat of a song whilst ‘Racetrack‘ takes the swaggering assertion that “I could go right and end up at the racetrack / or I could go left and come home to you / If I go right there’s money to be making / if I go left it’s just me and you” and builds it to a raucous crescendo of decision – and for once the right decision – with a settling for “just me and you“. In all ‘Cocorico Simpatico Corazón‘ is a solid album from Miami cowboy Nick County.

Country feelings with a rock heart - mostly.
6/10

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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