Album review
Tanya Stephens
Warner Music Sweden-Irie Records
May 30, 2001

Tracking list

  1. Banging in Gray
  2. Lying Lips (Words I Should Have Said)
  3. No More
  4. Tonight
  5. I Can See A Storm Coming
  6. In The Beginning
  7. Kiss The Kids
  8. Only Human
  9. Love You A Lot (... So I Lie A Little)
  10. Back To Haunt Me
  11. Home
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 5 Backing : 3/4 Production : 3/4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4/5

Female singjay Vivienne 'Tanya Stephens' Stephenson disappeared from the Jamaican reggae scene after 3 successfull albums (1994's "Big Things A Gwaan" produced by Barry O'Hare, 1997's "Too Hype" containing big breakthrough anthem "Yu Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet" and 1998's "Ruff Rider") to reappear in 2003 having taken a German detour recording with Seeed, for Silly Walks Movement and of course the smash hit "It's A Pity" over Seeed and Germaican Records' 'Doctors Darling'-riddim, to become one of THE female stars of JA dancehall again, riding the latest riddims to rule the dances like Christopher Birch' 'Military'-riddim, Donovon 'Vendetta' Bennett's 'Drop Leaf'-riddim and Fire Links' outrageous 'Chaka Chaka'-riddim, with the excellent 2004 solo-album "Gangsta Blues" under her belt that also featured the great acoustic reality chants "What A Day" and "The Other Cheek". In the period between the album "Ruff Rider" and her comeback with the single "It's A Pity" she spent a self-chosen exile in Sweden, where she recorded this "Sintoxicated" album. Originally planned for international release, Tanya had a fallout with Warner Sweden, as she wanted it to sound at least a bit more hardcore than the singer-songwriter acoustic guitar influenced folk a lá Tracey Chapman that was released in the end. And although this Emil Gotthard and Peter Cartriers production might not be your average reggae or dancehall album, her lyrics are as hard-hitting and poignant as ever on it. Whether singing about the disapproved of relationship by both her and his family between her as a black woman and a white man in "Banging In Gray" baby / banging in gray baby / black and white go together all right so we do it anyway baby / one of these days baby / we're gonna have us a gray baby / cause black and white make a beautiful sight / when we're rolling in the hay baby, or about a cheating lover in "Lying Lips (Words I Should Have Said)", there's some excellent wordplay and singing on this album. In fact in my opinion all lyrics on this album deserve to be included integral in this review (only preserving some readibility makes me give up doing that), with the complaint against JA politicians "No More" standing out even in this set filled with superb lyrics. "Tonight" I want to lay here right beside you is Tanya's song about the night she'll (probably) regret tomorrow, and "I Can See A Storm Coming" is the song with her story about 'tomorrow gone wrong' after trusting a guy like you with my heart / when you leave my head pounding just like the rain / say you're sorry turn around and do it again / now it seems I'm becoming a stickler for pain / cause the more you say you're changing the more you say the same. The conscious "In The Beginning" there was nothing / there was nothing but the word / now we're pretending like it's something that we never heard / some crazy metamorphosis has taken us off track / now i just wish there was some way i could go back / to the beginning life was so much simpler back then / and i know that if we try to we can achieve it again / in the beginning we made changes and we didn't count the cost / say we're winning but it seems to me that all of us are lost / all of us are lost. The very moving "Kiss The Kids" for me baby about the note left by the husband, she accuses of midlife crisis is such a lame excuse / it's not enough to say you're sorry to the ones you bruise, is followed by the ballad "Only Human", telling her lover your love make a hit / but the cinderella slipper won't fit / cause i'm only human / i make mistakes, i'm just a woman / no goody-goody in a bag, in case that's what you thought you had / i'm only human, i make mistakes, i'm just a woman / no goody-goody in a bag, baby / i'm not jesus in drag ... i'm not jesus in drag. The lyrics in .. So I Lie A Little are with a little twist: so i get high a little, and I die a little / i even lie a little, just to get by a little / i get high a little, and I die a little / i even lie a little, just to get by a little / but i love you a lot, cause you're all i got / i love you a lot, you're all i've got. The last two tunes are both dedicated to family-members dearly missed, the first i miss you really wish you would come "Back To Haunt Me" now to her deceased aunt, and the moving piano-ballad "Home" to her daughter Kelly, at that time only six years old and back 'home' in JA. This "Sintoxicated" album by Tanya Stephens deserves to be heard even if it were for the lyrics alone, but as was already was pointed out when it became German reggae magazine riddim's belated 'album of the month' when "Gangsta Blues" was released, sharing the honour together with the latter, it's not that easy to obtain outside of Sweden. The only source I know of outside of Sweden currently is Münster's Irie Records, where you can even listen into it in their soundfiles.


/ Souljah Green Beret Productions