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Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman

Fabled City
Epic
[Two and a half stars]

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rsiwebadmin Dec 10, 2008
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For his second solo effort, Morello enlists the help of Serj Tankian and Shooter Jennings on vocals, besides the multi-instrumental talents of producer-of-choice Brendan O’ Brien, to beef-up the predominantly troubadour-preacher sound of his first outing, One Man Revolution. Considering that OMR didn’t exactly receive accolades proportionate to its billing, one can’t really blame him for trying. While this change has taken the focus away from his surprisingly deep voice (one he used previously to greater dramatic effect), it has set him in a more comfortable surrounding. That, however, is of little importance after a while, because for all the continuing exploration on themes of revolt, darkness-gathering and bitter revenge, Morello sadly yet again, has on his hands an album that almost altogether fails to make an impression lyrically. If anything, the Nick Cave-like gravity lends a hint of caricature to what is a serious attempt to emulate Springsteen’s righteous honesty and Dylan’s distinctive imagery (‘The Lights Are On In Spidertown,’ ‘Rise To Power’). With the sky falling down, the coming of the lord and all the devils, thunder, iron chains and one-eyed ravens that populate this disc, it sounds, often, like the ominous bits of the Bible retold by a spaghetti western scriptwriter. But because he is, after all, the much-lauded axeman of Rage, Morello does end up leaving the listener with a few memorable musical moments. The ‘Whatever It Takes’ riff is a decent approximation on the acoustic of Morello’s electric prowess and ‘Saint Isabelle’ has a certain levity and country-folk sweetness well brought out by the production. In the end though, figuring out who hit the mark between this and bandmate Zack de la Rocha’s powerhouse side project, One Day As A Lion, is a no-brainer.

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