The project came together after Andy Curran, veteran Canadian band Coney Hatch‘s bassist and a longtime musical associate of Lifeson, began working with a young Oregon-based singer-songwriter named Maiah Wynne and asked Alex if he’d lend his guitar talents to a track.
“I sent it over to him, and he was floored,” Curran tells ABC Audio. “He said, ‘Andy, I think we’ve found a diamond in the rough here. This girl is a secret weapon.’ And that was the beginning of it all.”
Envy of None is quite a departure from Rush, with songs influenced by a variety of genres, including alternative rock, synth pop, Euro pop and industrial rock.
Lifeson tells ABC Audio, “I think what connects all of these different styles of music is [Maiah’s] voice. Her voice always sits right on top of what chaos the music is creating.”
The 68-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer says Wynne, 25, basically became his “muse” for the Envy of None project.
“[H]er sensibilities and her skill [are] such that she’s…very, very, very talented at a very early age,” he maintains. “[E]very song [she contributed to] had something that I wasn’t quite expecting.”
The album ends with the introspective instrumental “Western Sunset” that’s dedicated to late Rush drummer Neil Peart, whom Alex calls his “brother…good friend [and] working partner.”
Lifeson says he was inspired to compose the tune while watching the sunset during visits to an ailing Peart at his California home.
“It gives you a chance to catch your breath after listening to all this pretty intense material,” Alex notes of the song, “and just puts you in a very…contemplative mode.”
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