Nashville (US) artist, Joshua Ketchmark, has just released his latest single, Tazewell County Line, and for lovers of storytelling style country music – this is for you. We here at the Send Me Your Ears studio have taken several listens today to this gentle country rock style ballad.

Reminding us in places of late Lynyrd Skynyrd or perhaps Bon Jovi, there’s also a hint of Bob Seger in Joshua’s more powerful vocal moments.

Tazewell County Line is a song that paints a picture. It’s like when you’re reading a novel – if the first line grabs you – you’re hooked. From the very first lyric; “I thought I knew you
Was I ever wrong” you just want to find out more about the reasons behind the writing of this song. Like all good country songs, you want to know what happens next.

That all important second verse maintains interest by the addition of an ever so subtle hammond in the background. We love the stereo and panned incidental instrumentation. There’s some beautiful guitar licks between the vocal lines.

Joshua’s beautiful and slightly fragile voice carries this song well. His vocal styling suits the genre very well, and the addition of some higher harmony backing vocals in the choruses fit this style perfectly.

With a familiar feeling chord sequence and a real conversational feel to the lyrics, this may be a good song to pitch for sync licensing, although it would seem that Ketchmark is already garnering some success on North American radio stations. It’s hardly surprising. This is a song that makes the listener feel comfortable. One for the radio on a road trip across America, perhaps.

From a production perspective, we’d suggest a cut around 45Hz and a boost around 75-80Hz would balance out the kick drum a little. There is an occasional ringing tone at around 250Hz which make the mix seem a little muddy in places. This area is quite dominant in the vocal track too. The vocal track is also a little dominant at around 550-600Hz and again around 1.7kHz so a couple of small cuts in these places would help to smooth out the track. A wide and fairly large boost across the high mids and highs centred around 9kHz would add some extra brightness and clarity to the track with an additional high shelf boost in the top octave for a touch more ‘zing’. Finally, a light compressor (2:1?) for about 3-5dB of gain reduction with some make-up gain would make the whole track feel a little warmer.

Joshua Ketchmark was a new name to us today, but from this superb example of Country rock, this is an artist that we will actively seek out in the future. One to add to your playlist, for sure.