Tom Morello’s ‘World Wide Rebel Songs’ Has Soul – Album Review

Review by Anne Erickson

The Nightwatchman is the voice of the working class

Inspired by his heartrending experience hosting a talent show at a teen homeless shelter, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello’s the Nightwatchman is not simply a side project– it’s something to which he’s fully dedicated and obviously loves. In fact, with the introduction of Morello’s fourth album as the Nightwatchman, World Wide Rebel Songs (out Aug. 30 via New West Records), Morello has now matched the number of albums he’s recorded with Rage Against the Machine.

On World Wide Rebel Songs, Morello’s songwriting talents continue their ascending course, as he expands and develops new styles that go between forlorn ballads (“Save the Hammer for the Man”) to folk-punk hymns (“Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine”). Contrary to past releases, World Wide Rebel Songs features full-on orchestration via Morello’s band, “The Freedom Fighter Orchestra” (bass player Dave Gibbs, guitarist Carl Restivo, pianist Chris Joyner and drummer Eric Gardner), making this a very plugged-in release that gets pretty heavy with electric guitars.

An early stand-out, “It Begins Tonight,” is a rallying cry for action that shoots off with a catchy, rockabilly-tinged guitar riff and classic punk energy. While the chorus is a fist-pumping, shout-a-long anthem — with chants of, “It begins tonight!” — the real action is in the bridge, with Morello’s winding guitar solo that’s sharp, tuneful and nostalgic. “Save the Hammer for the Man,” the album’s first single, was co-penned with Ben Harper. The track features Harper on vocals and guitar, and when he harmonizes with Morello, it’s a haunting dynamic.

World Wide Rebel Song‘s motif is clear: Hopeless is a nation with no heart and no conscious. Hopefully those who agree will use these songs as catalyst for change and rekindled faith.

Tom Morello performs with Rise Against’s Tim McIllrath and MC5′s Wayne Kramer on The Justice Tour this fall, and proceeds benefit the Nation Institute. The tour hits Madison, Wis., on Sept 5; Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 6; and Flint, Mich., on Sept. 7.

Ink Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Splatters

 




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