For his third full length album as The Nightwatchman (and the fourteenth album of his influential career), guitar superhero Tom Morello switched up his style. Since 2007, he has used the moniker for his alter ego as a solo folk balladeer, delivering uncompromising protest songs in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and the young Bob Dylan. That identity was recently heard on Morello’s Union Town EP, eight songs benefiting the America Votes Labor Unity Fund, recorded in response to the anti-union bill put forward by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. But on World Wide Rebel Songs, he has assumed the role of front man for a band, The Freedom Fighter Orchestra, and picked up his electric guitar to convey his messages of resistance.
Tom Morello knows a few things about being in bands: As a member of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave, as well as half of the hip-hop agit-prop duo Street Sweeper Social Club, he has won Grammy awards and been part of 30 million albums sold worldwide. But when he went into his home studio in the fall of 2011 to begin work on this project, he didn't have a pre-determined sound in his mind – the musicians expanded his palette, but he wasn't certain where things would go. "I wanted the songs to lead me," he says. "Some wanted to be spooky and atmospheric, some called for more house-rocking arrangements."
Yet in the transformation from one-man acoustic performer to a full-bore, full-band experience, Morello maintains that the foundation of The Nightwatchman remains intact. "What this record has in common with the previous work," he says, "is that its core is about exploring the possibility of finding personal redemption through fighting for justice." In an era of chaos and turmoil around the globe, the voice of The Nighwatchman is needed now more than ever. With so many artists all too willing to abdicate any position of protest and challenge, Tom Morello, and the international concerns of his World Wide Rebel Songs, offer essential tools for the social justice struggles of today.