The Nightwatchman: World Wide Rebel Songs

tom morello, the nightwatchman, world wide rebel songsThe Nightwatchman: World Wide Rebel Songs
If you look at the career of Tom Morello, the only real project in his resume that makes no sense is Audioslave. Audioslave was an apolitical grunge supergroup about a decade too late. It seemed like a pure money grab. The Nightwatchman, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of a money grab. The project specializes in the type of hyper-political folk music that has not been popular since the early 1970s, not to mention the fact that the project has not exactly been a critical darling. None of his full length albums have ever gotten a Metacritic score of over a 66. Still the project treks on with its third full length release, World Wide Rebel Songs.
The problem with The Nightwatchman has always been that Tom Morello is not a great wordsmith. His lyrics display true tenants of his beliefs but it is often done to varying levels of awkwardness. The opening song “Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine” gives us a wonderful image as Morello sings “I’m a massive airstrike on a beautiful night.” The problem is that he follows up that line with “yeah, this is my song I’m singin’/Somebody better start countin’/We’re comin’ out and we’re comin’ out swingin’.” The trite rhyme scheme and hamhanded word choice sadly betray the genesis of a good idea.
The track is essentially a microcosm for the entire project. The idea of bringing back solo acoustic protest folk seems like a good idea in these polarizing political times but the execution has always been just off. It seems as if Morello knows this. I can only assume this by the inclusion of “It Begins Tonight.” The track is a full out Rage Against the Machine rocker. It is no wonder the track was released as the album’s first single but it is just a rues. It is the only track of its kind on the album, a simple track made for radio play to try and sell albums. It seems like an odd play for Morello who portrays himself as a grand poobah of morality, tricking people into buying an album by a single that is in no way representative of the rest of product. It makes me think maybe the money grab that was Audioslave was not such a drop in the dark after all.
Rating: 6.5/10
MP3: The Nightwatchman “Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine”
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