For more than a decade, Tom Morello used earsplitting riffs to make his point, first with Rage Against the Machine, then with Audioslave. But on his solo debut as the Nightwatchman, the man named one of Rolling Stone's 100 greatest guitarists of all time tries a different approach. Taking cues from six-string radicals such as Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash, Morello reinvents himself as a singer-songwriter armed only with an acoustic guitar, gravelly baritone, and renewed political fervor. The lyrics are unavoidably blunt, whether tackling the plight of third world workers or being a member of two of the biggest rock bands of the past two decades: "On the streets of Havana I got hugged and kissed/ At the Playboy Mansion I wasn't on the list," he sings on the title track. The real discovery is that he's capable of making the same old racket at just a fraction of the volume. --Aidin Vaziri
The Nightwatchman is Tom Morello. Musician and political and social activist Tom Morello's stark new album as The Nightwatchman, 'One Man Revolution, is a dark, urgent portrait of a world in turmoil, 13 songs of "bitterness and revenge." Morello, the Grammy Award-winning guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, compares war zones in the US and Iraq, proclaims that Jesus was black and pinpoints the sociopolitical struggles of the American leftist underground in the series of self-penned originals, singing and playing acoustic guitar for the first time on record.