Joshua Ketchmark’s latest album ‘The Misses’ opens with high power rock: ‘Cold Feet’ stomps all over another’s tendency to hold back and hesitate. It has a radio-ready feel that reflects the kind of bands that inspired Ketchmark to get into music – and with whom he has been associated with one way or another over the years: Elvis Costello, Don Henley, Ryan Adams. And, according to his bio’, Gene Simmons still owes him six bucks. So it should be no surprise that he has a tendency to delve into emotional situations and personal relationships, whilst tying that to high order riffage and pounding drums – as on ‘Make No Apologies‘ which has the combination of sneering disdain and stabbing lead guitar perfectly combined. ‘Rock and Roll‘ ties this all together with a heartbeat introduction which sets the scene of meeting a girl who embodies the music that has dominated his life “I saw you in the record store in the summer of 1994 spinning Joan Jett loud enough to go deaf” before punctuating this with a thumping chorus which asks the double-edged question “I got to know why you don’t need me anymore / I can’t let go, I can’t let go/ Rock and Roll“.
And when he sticks to this theme – the sound and the power and the striving for the glory – Joshua Ketchmark delivers some very listenable-to rock. There might be nothing particularly groundbreaking but all the elements are there and it sounds good. There’s no shame in sounding good. When he slows things down though, and when he hits a nostalgic frame of mind – and these things do seem to go together for Joshua Ketchmark – things become less compelling. ‘1988‘ is, more or less, a retread of ‘Summer of ’69‘ – and that’s the wrong Adams. ‘Those were the days‘ is a soft rock reminiscence about an early love, it’s enlivened by some beautiful guitar work, especially on the playout, but again the confessional tone is more Bryan than Ryan. When Joshua Ketchmark rocks on the ‘The Misses‘, then he rocks, but when he tries to roll it slow and emotional he moves, unfortunately, into the middle of the road with Adult Orientated Rock blandness.
Nostalgia – it’s not what it used to be.