Joshua Ketchmark – ’17’

Sometimes a song is so utterly specific and memory-inducing that it leaves you in awe. Joshua Ketchmark’s track, “17,” from his album, Under Plastic Stars, is one such song. The singer and songwriter is based in LA, with deep ties to Nashville, Tennessee as well. This album came out in the summer and if you’ve yet to listen to it, I would recommend fixing that.

“17” is a song about young love and how things come to an end. It is… sad. Simple as that. I felt like my gut was punched listening to this song, because the sheer hopelessness that exudes in each lyric. It’s beautiful, yes, and Ketchmark proves himself to be a talented lyricist, given how strong the emotions that he evoke are. It’s definitely not a song you want to hear when you’re looking for something to cheer you up- wallowing in emotions and thinking of the past, however, is perfect for this song.

Ketchmark’s voice is soft and smooth, catered perfectly to the music and the context of the song. His guitar work is impressive, to say the least. The song is acoustic and that enhances the sorrow and regret that courses through each verse. There are certain parts of the song where the guitar has a little twang, much like you’d hear in country music. Given how Ketchmark lived and continues to work frequently in Nashville, Tennessee, this is a fun little thing to take note of. It’s a part of his sound that enhances the overall genuine, raw nature of his work.

The lyrics are, as mentioned previously, a marvel in their own right. While songs about lost, young love and the pain that accompany it seem like a dime a dozen, what makes “17” special is the way Ketchmark illustrates it. Something can be said a thousand times and still be worth listening to if you use the right words. My favorite lyric comes in at the end- “Some people die before knowing / maybe they were meant for another life.” If I wasn’t already sold on the song, this would have sealed the deal for me.

Ketchmark has had a hand in so much in the music business- his tale is both fascinating and shows how he and his music has come so far. He’s worked and hung out with some big names that, upon reading them, made me realize that this wasn’t an up-and-comer or a late bloomer. He’s been here, and it’s a shame I am just now hearing of him. A few years ago he started to help new musicians realize their dreams and reach their potential, and I have a lot of respect for that. It’s easy to only care for yourself, but to think outside of your own little world is something that deserves to be taken note of.

“17” left me more emotional than I’d like to admit, and that is more than enough reason for you to take a listen. It’s a great song off of a great album. Ketchmark has a lot of talent and even more to say, and I look forward to embracing every word.

Victoria Patterson