Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, 'The Fabled City' (Epic)

5
The Fabled City
Critical Mass
Label: Epic

by Jaan Uhelszki

On his second agit-folk album under the Nightwatchman persona, Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello incorporates electric instrumentation and foregrounds his sonorously ponderous baritone, aspiring to, if not attaining, the gravity of Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, and Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen. A dark prophet in Frye boots, Morello spits prickly tunes of creeping dread, as on the cautionary title track, which is as much prayer as call to action. The standout is "Lazarus on Down," a slow death waltz, with Serj Tankian's atonal, disembodied singing adding to the unease -- like a finger of ice rippling down a bony spine.

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