Review | Leoni Jane Kennedy – New World Woman

Independent / Bandcamp

The album `New World Woman’ of Leoni Jane Kennedy sees the talented singer-songwriter grind her teeth into Rush’ most subtle part of their long spanning catalogue. Covering the lesser obvious in acoustic format, this record offers a captivating journey through soundscapes that blend folk, pop, and soul with an ethereal touch. From the opening track to the final note, Kennedy’s mesmerizing vocals draw listeners into her world, where introspection and empowerment intertwine.


The album’s production is polished yet retains an organic warmth, allowing Kennedy’s voice to shine amidst lush arrangements. Lyrically, Neil Peart’s lyrical prowess and artistic wordplay adds to Kennedy’s intrinsic appeal and radiant performances with `New World Woman’ delving into themes of self-discovery, resilience, and embracing change, Rush’ music resonating with listeners on a more personal level in Leoni Jane’s renditions.

Remakes of ,,Tears” with its grandiose ‘close to the heart’ acoustic playing and subtle string arrangements, and the intimate yet glorious ,,Available Light” showcase Kennedy’s knack for recrafting the band’s infectious melodies without losing touch of the band’s musical marksmanship. The challenging musical compositions are stripped back to their essence with Kennedy focusing on conveying lyrical mood and music aligned accordingly. These covers linger in the mind long after the music fades. 


Most left intact in their broadness, some have received an extremely appealing make over like ,,Kid Gloves”. The song still leans on its guitar intro, thematically woven into the root of this acoustic version revealing Alex Lifeson’s insane quality as a composer of guitar sections. While the song hails from their ‘powered up’ keyboard era Leoni Jane Kennedy displays the impeccable structure engrained in the strum of the song. Where the song originally goes into its high-tech pumping bass section with clean pitched guitars atop, Kennedy and her team evoke its tumultuous ambiance with their acoustic playing. Impressive. ,,Digital Man” fuses the high-tech structures with the same elegant playing. The acoustic lick delivered is flamenco-esque and the pace is elevating with Kennedy belting out wonderful vocals to make the song ooze on your senses. 

Meanwhile, Kennedy managed to maintain Rush powerful presentation of ,,Open Secrets” while clamping down on its guitar theme. The musical variance is injected with the subtle vocal interaction and exquisite harmonies, empowering the song’s lyrical content. 


Crafted around its bass line, ,,Cold Fire” reveals a depth of emotion that tugs at the heartstrings with vocal interaction between Kennedy and Eoin de Paor. This is continued on the gob-smacking wonderful ,,Mystic Rhythms”. The song’s comforting elements are blend into an acoustic interplay of guitars but received Leoni’s wonderful vocals on top, like icing on a cake. 

,,Different Zone” offers a fascinating twist, being a reinterpretation of Rush’s `Permanent Waves’ ballad, ,,Different Strings”. This rendition ingeniously blends the catchy hook from ,,The Twilight Zone” off the band’s sci-fi masterpiece, `2112’, with distant echoes of ,,Here Again” in both theme and melody. Built upon the sturdy foundation of the original, it evolves with rich ambient acoustic arrangements, creating a captivating sonic journey portraying Kennedy’s love for the band without simply ‘copying to cover’.

Exactly this is what makes her cover versions so wonderful; ,,New World World (Wo)man’’ is performed with powerful strutting guitars and maintains the song’s wild run of chordal playing – lick interaction. The elemental melody is wonderful and crafts the bridge into its memorable chorus that has Kennedy laying down a hued performance with harmonies smooth and gently. The wordplay “New World Woman” is brought forward during this chorus and falls into place amongst the wonderful renditions of these above Rush classics. 


`New World Woman’ stands as a profound testament to Kennedy’s artistry, spotlighting her multifaceted talents as both a performer and a creative force reshaping Rush’ classic melodies. Whether through her enchanting vocals or her skilful song-rendering, she delivers mesmerizing performances that resonate deeply. Her musical prowess infuses a newfound accessibility into the realm of progressive rock, potentially broadening its appeal. The album, with its lush sonic landscape and heartfelt lyrical delivery, is poised to etch an imprint on listeners, particularly among devoted Rush enthusiasts worldwide. 

More than just an homage, it serves as a rallying cry for those longing for the band’s musical essence, with Leoni Jane reimagining their legacy.

Release date: 2023



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