Peoria, Illinois-born singer-songwriter Joshua Ketchmark, grew up on influences from the eighties and MTV. He has trekked between LA and Tennessee to apply his craft, and has worked with artists such as Fuel, Jonny Lang, Melissa Etheridge, and producers like Michael Beinhorn, Rob Cavallo and Julian Raymond along the way. Joshua has an enviable creative drive, to put it mildly. He has a string of releases to his name, with his latest being the 10 track album – “The Misses”. And Of course, most of this album comes off as what you’d expect from a well navigated musician; a massive talent messing around in the studio and crafting some perfectly serviceable rock and Americana-based tunes.
Without a bad splash in a sea of goodness on this album, Joshua Ketchmark’s inimitable blend of fervent arena rockers with nostalgic emotions and turbulent relationships, never steps into the puddle of shallow adult-contemporary tripe that we’re forced to listen to on the radio today.
His beefy guitar tones and distinctive vocal delivery elevate the material, as it does on the soaring album opener “Cold Feet” and the subsequent “Make No Apologies”, a song with some pristine guitar strums and lines that could send you into a euphoric state by track two already.
As the focus of “The Misses” becomes grander in scope so does the music. Ambitious enough to stand out on its own, yet at the same time it gives the listener the smooth aftertaste of something instantly familiar. Ketchmark launches into “Come True” and “Dancehall Blues” with his creative and emotional floodgates wedged wide open.
These songs are certainly fueled by events in Joshua’s life, reflecting the traveling shoes that he has worn over the years. Filled with starry-eyed nostalgia “1988” travels back to more innocently hopeful times.
That these are songs filled with hot emotion, true grit, technical polish and personal perspective, is amply confirmed by the intense crunch of “Can’t Be Your Friend” and the looming abandon of a declining relationship on “Her Voice in My Head”.
Almost like a diary, the thoughts and ideas in this album sprawl, and in doing so, gain space and depth. Along the way Joshua’s gift for rhythm and melody shows itself to be so strong it’s almost scary. These songs also work because of Joshua’s vocal verve which is able to kill both verse and chorus with nuance and power.
This is definitely the case with “Rock & Roll” and “Those Were the Days”, in-between, the rollicking “Stray” plays testimony to the overflowing inspiration and the enjoyment that music and unconstrained freedom of expression bring. “The Misses” is an album of craft and emotional intensity that will please everyone that loves the genre.
It is a patchwork of all the experiences that Joshua Ketchmark has matured from. Mostly, it’s his eminently listenable voice, his succinct way with words, and that driving guitar that keeps this album’s momentum moving gracefully forward. But ultimately, Joshua is at his best when capturing the essence of what it means to have a human heart and soul.