A rather intriguing collaboration between the well-known and the lesser so on Envy Of None.
Release Date: 8th April 2022
Formats: CD / digital / vinyl
Envy Of None, the new project featuring Alex Lifeson (Rush), Andy Curran (Coney Hatch), Alfio Annibalini and singer Maiah Wynne. For anyone who might have been wondering about life after Rush. Alex of course is the big name who’shas been there, done it and thrown the T-shirt into the crowd. He has nothing to prove. His role in Envy Of None may well be as mentor and guiding light, so anyone expecting any sort of links between his past and the present might be a tad underwhelmed. There may be crossovers, but you may have o delve deep to find them. Suffice to say that anyone who embraces the breath of the catalogue of the holy triumvirate will fell a little more satisfaction in following the next steps on the Lifeson path.
So where does Envy Of None sit? Alternative – definitely. Experimental – for sure. And while we’re adding labels and tags , vocalist Maiah Wynne turns in a star performance as her moody tones carry the synth riddled, pop sensibilities and twisting dark hooks. None more so than on the first single Liar that slithers along a deep, dark and fizzing electro pop pathway. The only surprise is not hearing Gary Numan on vocals. The mood continues apace with the “maybe I’m just paranoid” confession she whispers on Spy House before the first real glimpse of a Lifeson solo squeals in and the album maintains that strangelhold with a thundering industrial march on the increasingly intense Dog’s Life. More dominant rock based (fast paced rock even), it nullifies any qualms that Envy Of None rely on a reserved subtlety.
Wynne has talked up the intimacy of the songs. There’s clearly an up close and personal presence about her breathy vocals that’s apparent from the opening trio that lull and pull at the contemporary pop strings rather than strike with a vengeance. Old Strings ensures we’re never too far away from a barely disguised mainstream tinged pop song. Lush textures abound while on a similar-ish same page, Kabul Blues has a progressively fuelled intent; another piece that snakes along an ethnic route, all mirages and vast dry landscapes.
Having mentioned Numan, the darker industrial electronics weigh heavily in the pairing of Dumb and Enemy. The latter a heftier cousin. While one offers a lighter touch ambience the other is a deeply brooding encounter with more than a hint of menace, not least from the controlled Bonhamesque rhythm.
And just when you thought most bases had been covered, a note on how closing track Western Sunset is Lifeson’s tribute to The Professor, his late lamented colleague Neail Peart. When he remarks on the finality about a sunset it’s an apt way and “a nice way to close the book.” The rare appearance of a gently stummed acoustic guitar cushioned by the restrained luxurious washes and waves, another example of the nouse of how to bring closure to an album – cf The Garden.
Anything that inspires Alex Lifeson to make new music is worthwhile. Envy Of None is a genuine showcase for the original and ethereal talent of Maiah Wynne while reminding us how Lifeson can continue to play his part.
Watch the official video for Look Inside from the album here: