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April 2024
Vol. 23, No. 7

CD Reviews

SMITH & TEGIO: Can’t Stay Here

by Wayne RikerMarch 2024

Can’t Stay Here is the second release from the songwriting duo Smith and Tegio, better known as Austin Smith and Mark Tegio. The ten original tracks combine the talents of Smith and Tegio as poignant lyricists and accomplished acoustic guitarists, with flatpicking and fingerstyle skills backing their tunes.

The opening track, “Hell Raising Habit,” sets the mood of a neighborhood country music bar with a packed dance floor amid the words: “little bit of wine when I drink to my health…a little bit of whiskey when I can’t help myself,” ornamented behind some tasty flatpicking guitar and bluesy harmonica phrases.

The title track, “Can’t Stay Here,” is a rebel-rousing track, ornamented with flurries of silky fiddle licks behind the lyrical chorus “I don’t know, just where to go,” followed by the tender country waltz, “Shine.” “We were dancing, in the twilight, just wishing that the last bit of daylight would take its time.”

The minor-key ballad “Second Hand” is bolstered by the dulcet tones of pedal steel guitar and a smooth flatpick guitar solo behind the lyrics: “been shooting myself in the foot again, and I’m losing track of all my friends,” followed by the honky tonkin’ track, “Think I’ll Just Sing,” with more hot licks from the pedal steel guitar supporting the lyrics of life on the road. “I’ve been living in vans playing one night stands, makes a man feel lonesome and blue.”

“Turn Me Loose” is a two-steppin’ goodie with some nice vocal harmonies intertwined with an assortment of bluesy flatpicking riffs on guitar. “Just turn me loose on the road, singing songs with my friends, fill my glass up to the top, don’t know if I’m back here again,” followed by “Same Ol’ Waltz,” a lilting 6/8 time “cry-in-your-beer” waltz. “So come on, break my heart…and I’ll break yours.”

“At the Table” serves as a fitting conclusion, a soulful folk-flavored track that builds in intensity with cascading vocal harmonies, fiddle motifs, and harmonica riffs drenched in reverb amid a jamming high-register guitar solo. This brings to a close an enjoyable listen of stories of life’s travels, trials, and tribulations with well thought-out and often catchy lyrics, tightly woven instrumental arrangements that are bolstered by the adept backing of harmonica, fiddle, and pedal steel guitar to complement the core guitars and vocals in each track. Well done!

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