Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman: World Wide Rebel Songs


“I will whisper words of freedom, I will swing hard as I can,” characterizes a solid representation of Tom Morello’s vision and mode of action for The Nightwatchman project.  Those words taken from the song “Save the Hammer for the Man” off of Morello’s latest Nightwatchman record, World Wide Rebel Songs, detail both his lyrical tone and his strong instrumental aggressor style.  Since The Nightwatchman’s entry with the release of One Man Revolution in 2007, Morello has proven that the battle has just much of an ability to rage within a 6-string acoustic guitar branded with the line “Whatever It Takes.”  His thought-provoking lyrics immersed within a folk-based style of sound have put power in the hands of those who really drive to the tune of power through solidarity.  World Wide Rebel Songs at its core resembles the structure of The Nightwatchman’s previous two records, but the sound broadens somewhat with the addition of more production instrumentals.

On “Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine,” Morello opens strongly with a harmonica-driven introduction pointed in the familiar direction that “St. Isabelle” did on The Fabled City.  The song’s theme shows that history is made by people that affect the system not kingpins that control its environment.  That “act now” mantra translates well across the entirety of World Wide Rebel Songs, and the choral elements added to tracks like “Black Spartacus,” “Stray Bullets” and “It Begins Tonight” bring out a depth of unity and power in numbers.  “It Begins Tonight” is by far the most electric driven Nightwatchman sound presented since Morello sat in with Springsteen on “The Ghost of Tom Joad” during a memorable show in 2008.  This track rubs a scent of the most recent Street Sweeper Social Club collaboration with Boots Riley as it describes an overtaking of power in the context of the words.

Morello tributes his Kenyan heritage as he sings “Black for the skin/ green for the land/ red for the blood/ steady freedom’s hand” on “Facing Mount Kenya.”  The song appears to act as a segue that mellows the sound at that point during the listen which leads into a darker melody on “The Whirlwind.”  The fusion that introduces Morello’s piercing electric sound with the project’s acoustic core embodies the evolved sound of The Nightwatchman.  Through music, Tom Morello has provided intellectual ideas that share an idea of standing up for those struggling and The Nightwatchman has been his most accessible platform, as of late, to bring forth these shared unionized goals.  

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