Tanya's fans may believe she's 'Infallible'
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Infallible can be a brash name for a song, much less an entire album. Then there is the performance of the same name to present it to the salivating public, a solo show in the unforgiving up-close and personal format.
Based on the turnout (crammed to near boiling point) and response (way over boiling point) at Christopher's Jazz Café, The Quad, New Kingston, last Thursday night, quite a few people believe that Tanya Stephens is not trying on boots larger than the black biker-style anchors in which she stood toe-to-toe with the audience through two rounds of lyrics, musings, rapport and quips, oversized auburn shades reflecting the flash of snapshot takers.
When the show was over, more snapshots were taken and the boots removed, Stephens - shades still on - telling The Sunday Gleaner "everybody going to jump to the conclusion that I'm saying I'm infallible. I'm not. Most human beings will say 'I'm indestructible', but I know I'm not. I'm prone to error."
The superstitious, or maybe just cautious, may read much into the 18-song album's title track being placed at number 13, but there will be no sales figures to pore over and analyse. Infallible is free for download and has always been planned that way.
"It not really detracting anything from me," Stephens said, explaining that if she had gone the customary distributor route, all she would have recouped anyway would have been production costs. She also pointed out that we are going through a "different" economic climate and giving away the album, "it is not asking too much to support the people who have supported me through the good times".
"I have a lot to give thanks for," she added. "I like to think I am a grateful person. I can't overlook the fact that I am lucky. Nobody is obligated to like me or support me."
In giving thanks, she has not short-changed on the Tarantula Records' 'freebie', which "evolved over years". There were no shortcuts in the production process and Stephens said it actually ended up taking longer than planned as "there was no deadline. There was no authority figure over it".
And there are the other commitments Stephens has - it is her daughter's CXC year, she operates a bar in Ocho Rios, St Ann, and there is her book, Behind These Shades, in the works.
"I took it in stride. If you busy and you tired (it means) you have something to do," Stephens said. Having nothing to do is simply not an option, not to the woman who sang "I live my life like there's an engine revving in it/I push every minute to the limit" on her previous full-length set, Rebelution.
Stephens' already popular songs were performed around the Infallible tracks last Thursday. On the tail-end of It's a Pity, which sent the audience into a collective climax, Stephens smiled as she said, "You have some artiste have a one big song and it wicked. You come hear them live and them drag it out. A hear me hear myself a sing the song an' a drag it out". And she instructed the band "Cut! Backside!"
She told The Sunday Gleaner she does not downplay her songs at all. "I can't downplay what sustains me," she said. And It's a Pity "being one of most popular, is not one I could downplay". However, she said with the songs and the audience response, "sometimes I feel a little bit overwhelmed by it all. If I look like I downplay it, it might be my reaction to being overwhelmed".
In Way Back (done not quite way back), Stephens sings "and then came along brothers Napster and Aimster/and though they were definitely wrong/I think it's worse to be forced to buy a whole bull... album/just to get that one good song". The Sunday Gleaner asked if giving away Infallible is a development on those lines. Stephens smiles and said "it is not my intention to set myself up as any standard. When I did that (Way Back) I was a disgruntled customer. And it is not specific to any album. Me just love music to death".
Which does not mean that the lady behind the shades will be trotting out album number eight shortly. "Me like to pace myself. Me honestly don't feel there is anybody who make music every day and it's good. Sometimes you have to go out and experience new things and experience some old ones again. Maybe that's why we end up on the merry-go-round, singing the same songs. We don't take the time to breathe," she said.
"Me have to take a breath, experience some new stuff."