There are many ways an artist can build an intimacy between him or her and the listener. While not impossible, writing a piece with a large group of musicians can be quite difficult to archive this – perhaps because of the number of people involved. Instead, the artist and its instrument (most of the time a guitar) is the best way to connect in a much personal way, especially when you pour your heart not only into the song but the performance itself.
In Under Plastic Stars, Nashville transplant Joshua Ketchmark has open the doors to his soul as it dances between different themes that move all the way from romance to trivial, yet somewhat important things in life. Armed with his acoustic guitar and a small group of background musicians, this is not only Ketchmark’s story, but it serves as a soundtrack of many people’s lives. The Country approach Joshua takes it was a definitely wise decision as the genre itself is driven by its direct storytelling.
Now, while it’s motives were great and talent is definitely there – Under Plastic Stars really missed some sparks for me. It gets to a point where the whole album (except for one or two exception) feels very monotonous. The same echo effects in the vocals as well as the very exact range; maybe my ears were failing but I could swear they were about the same chords playing over and over again in each song and a lack of risk in the further production work and approaches, it really felt very safe played.
Criteria - 70%
In the end, Joshua Ketchmark’s Under The Plastic Star has some great intentions and you can definitely hear the talent that Country hardcore fans will deeply dig – but it’s lack of dynamism and ambitions tones down what it could have been a very special record. Hopefully, moving on, Joshua will go beyond the expected spectrum and delight us with an album that squeeze til the last drop of his musical brilliance that lies somewhere inside him.