Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman: World Wide Rebel Songs

Marxist axeman broadens radical folk-rock persona.

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Softening his signature rap- metal attack, Rage guitarist Morello dons his agit-folk troubadour mantle for a third time on this solid campfire songbook, which is less austere and more diverse than its predecessors.

As ever, the ghosts of Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash hover close during Biblically bleak dark-country ballads such as The Fifth Horseman Of The Apocalypse and God Help Us All. But there is more of a rowdy, communal, Dylan-esque warmth to gospel-fired rock’n’soul solidarity anthems like Save The Hammer For The Man or Speak And Make Lightning.

With lyrics that touch on revolution, war and social injustice, but never in an overly preachy or literal way, the raspy-voiced Morello is shaping up to be a rabble-rousing roots-rock everyman in the Joe Strummer vein. Respect.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.