• Gloria Tang

Joshua Ketchmark New Single 'Covered in Blood' will release on 8 July

Joshua Ketchmark’s “Covered in Blood” kicks off with a driving, electric guitar chord groove. It sounds like Mike Campbell leading the charge with Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, like he did wonderfully so many times along with those Florida-raised, Los Angeles-based rockers. Like Petty/Campbell, Ketchmark knows how to rock & roll, without ever losing sight of pop melodies. This music is hard enough for the boys, but still sweet enough for the girls. It is, simply put, music that incorporates the best of both worlds. Even despite its horror movie-ready song title.



When Ketchmark’s begins to sing this song’s words, he stretches out the syllables to each word -- for extra emphasis? Once Ketchmark gets to the song title in the chorus, the music stops – for a dramatic pause – so Ketchmark can sing, “Covered in blood.” It’s an intentional attention-grabber. If he didn’t have your rapt attention up to that point, singing about being covered in blood will stop you in your tracks. It’s his way of stating, ‘This is serious.’ Just the word picture of one covered in blood, suggests a circumstance of life and death. This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, to paraphrase Talking Heads, this ain’t no foolin’ around.


Not to belabor the point, but the song goes into a middle section where the guitarist plays extended notes while an organ swells. This sounds so much like so many memorable Heartbreakers songs. The only element truly missing is a Southern drawled vocal. Heck, even on Mike Campbell’s new band’s music, the Dirty Knobs, this former Heartbreaker lead guitarist can’t hide his Southern accent. Sure, it’s not as strong as Petty’s, but it’s still there. Ketchmark may have made Nashville’s south his home, but this is a Midwestern guy from near Chicago, so we cannot reasonably expect to hear too much twang in his vocals – even for a transplant.


It's difficult to know exactly what Ketchmark’s lyric is about, but it reads like a breakup song in various spots. “Don’t believe everything you hear,” he warns at one point, and then states, “Leavin’ was the last thing on my mind.” Thus, there probably isn’t any literal knife or gunplay involved. Instead, one suspects the ‘covered in blood’ description is meant to play up the drama of a broken relationship.


The track is 3:25, which is nearly the perfect single length. It follows the wise songwriting progression of: Get in, make your point, then get out. There isn’t any prog-y instrumental noodling or questionable instrumental middle sections. No, this is raw emotion put into propulsive motion for unavoidable auditory consumption. Although one can sort of deduce what Ketchmark is getting at with the lyric, he doesn’t completely give the plot away. There’s plenty of room for mystery. Even if you don’t play detective with its lyric, the track’s overall joyous sound is more than enough of a selling point.


Okay, so Ketchmark doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at getting this song placed on a slasher movie soundtrack. No matter. That’s not he’s intent. He’s all about touching emotional nerves, where he has fully succeeded.



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-Dan MacIntosh