CD Review: Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman

World Wide Rebel Songs (New West)

With Rage Against the Machine, Tom Morello set his leftist politics to a visceral mix of punk and hip-hop, eventually couching the sloganeering with a thundering '70s stomp in his later project, Audioslave. In 2003 Morello returned to his political roots, getting his Woody Guthrie on as the Nightwatchman. On World Wide Rebel Songs, he balances the acoustic and electric, aptly serving his wake-up-and-smell-the-right-wing-bullshit lyrics. Whether unplugged ("The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse"), amped to Zep-like Ledness ("It Begins Tonight"), raising consciousness and hell with street-choir joy (the title track), or preaching with the fervor of Reverend Dylan ("Save the Hammer for the Man"), Morello leaps onto his soapbox with a blazing guitar and righteous outrage, both dialed up to needle-pegging intensity. — Brian Baker