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One Man Revolution
One Man Revolution finds Tom Morello, best known as Rage Against The Machine’s firebrand guitarist, attempt to metamorphose into a latter-day Woody Guthrie.
Francis Jones, 14 May 2007
One Man Revolution finds Tom Morello, best known as Rage Against The Machine’s firebrand guitarist, attempt to metamorphose into a latter-day Woody Guthrie. A bleak depiction of modern America, ‘California’s Dark’, sets the tone for the remainder of the record. Armed with an acoustic guitar, The Nightwatchman is a rabble-rousing vigilante, taking the fight to the wrongdoers and the warmongers, capitalists and the morally bankrupt. It's big hearted, chest-thumping stuff.
Unfortunately, however, the potency of the admirable sentiments is undermined by the lacklustre execution. Morello is nowhere near as profound as he thinks he is; on songs such as ‘Let Freedom Ring’ and ‘No One Left’ the lyrics should bitch and bite and nag at our conscience, instead it all feels rather trite. Crucially The Nightwatchman lacks the explicitly explosive theatrics that made RATM such a compelling proposition. The reverse Dylan aspect, Morello’s electric to acoustic switch, is intriguing though, and his guitar playing remains as dextrous as ever. In addition, the vocal, all grain and gristle, conveys a world-gone-to-shit weariness that imbues the record with a folksy authenticity. When he's on message, ‘The Road I Must Travel’ and ‘Battle Hymns’, The Nightwatchman proves a force to be reckoned with. But a Woody Guthrie for this generation? Not quite.