“We’re Appalachian, we play some countrified rock and roll” says a group who named themselves ‘Building Rockets’ and named their forthcoming EP Space Camp. Yeah, there is a bit more too them than “We’re Appalachian, we play some countrified rock and roll.” Building Rockets is built of four top notch musicians: Emily Jamison: vocals, guitar, MacLean James: guitar, keys, JD Thomas: bass, and Jeremy Roberts: drums, percussion. Although on the Space Camp EP, Cameron Anthony Miller actually laid down all the drum tracks. The sum with Building Rockets is much greater than the total of the parts. Building Rockets released their debut EP Space Camp on February 19th.
Space Camp opens up with “Robert,” MacLean James’s virtuoso opens the song with a brief intro before we met the powerhouse vocals of Em Jamison. Em spins the tale of poor Robert, now “stuck six feet under” worrying about the woman he left behind who “doesn’t know where in Kentucky I lay.” This a haunting, yet beautiful tale of the fear, not of dying but dying alone. Robert’s ghost pines that if ” I could crawl out and find her, I would lead her to the marker, so alone I wouldn’t be.” His ghost trapped until a visit from his from his sweetheart can set him free from the mortal world, which may never happen, because “Here, they know me as Robert” and nobody knows that She calls him Bobby. “Robert” spins a sad, sad time with an old timey (sort of) feel. I have heard Em sing this with just her and a guitar, which was a treat in itself, having a full band backing her brings an entirely different feel and depth to the tale of poor Robert.
“Bitter and Sweet” is another sad tale of a relationship, a tale of a couple who “just like our drinks, we’re bitter and sweet”. The agony of being in a relationship that neither wants but can’t leave, “he doesn’t want us, and neither do I” yet “we both think without us, our lives aren’t complete” MacLean’s guitar in the little interlude toward the end of this one is classic rock and blues, sort of reminiscent of subdued AC/DC, more Malcolm than Angus, “Ride On” is what MacLean’s licks put me in mind of. Not straight up alike, but it puts me in mind of Malcolm and John Mayer having a love child named MacLean James.
Just these first two songs showcase not only the vocals of Jamison, but the guitar playing of MacLean James. These first two songs show that in a region filled with gunslingers, James is absolutely in the mix at the top of the heap. If you are not familiar with him, Space Camp is a perfect opportunity to get acquainted!
I think “Ribbon and a Rose” is my personal favorite track on the EP. Almost old-time gospel vocal stylings from Em driven by a heavier, rocking beat driven by MacLean and Cameron. “Ribbon and a Rose” showcases the timing and beats of Cameron Miller and a couple of added guests blending in everything into an absolutely amazing gem of a song. I am not going to deep dive into the lyrics on this one, simply because unlike the first two songs where the lyrics grab you and lead you on a journey, “Ribbon and a Rose” is a journey in itself. This one showcases amazing individual musicians blending into a stunning output. While Em’s voice is unreal in its own right, this song was made for it. I said I think “Ribbon and a Rose” was my favorite, that’s misleading, it absolutely is. Space Camp is worth buying for “Ribbon and a Rose” alone plus you get five bonus songs and an acoustic version of “Ribbon and a Rose.”
“I’m not broken or bruised, just stuck and confused. I’ll be alright come tomorrow.” An aftermath song shouldn’t be this pretty, but “Come Tomorrow” is a beautiful song. Musically it is artistic with MacLean James swapping out his axe for the keys. “I woke up from a nap that I made on the couch, surrounded by laundry and boxes of take out. It’s been a few weeks since I slept in my bed.” The aftermath of a break-up, crawl in our hole and shut the world off; this is something that is going to resonate with a lot of people listening to this one. The realization that she isn’t broken, and the sun is going to come up and things will be ok “Come Tomorrow.”
“A Thing to Lose” is another musically beautiful number, the melody and instrumentation is just beautiful, while the lyrics take us to darker places as Em pines of another relationship gone wrong. “This halfhearted romance, was it worth a chance at all? It ain’t a thing to lose”. “You cut it off, and I’m about to cut loose.” The music is so beautiful on ‘A Thing to Lose’ and clashes with the darker lyrics in this tale of a love failed.
“The Way” is my second favorite track, coming in in a dead heat behind “Ribbon and a Rose.” Heavier, bluesier and a totally different style vocally from Jamison. At one point in the song, her flow with a spitfire, almost scat yet perfectly understandable lyrics channels Anthony Keddis is an odd sort of way! But, it works. “The Way” showcases her ability and range just as much as “Ribbon and a Rose” but in a totally different direction. Here as I mentioned, she channels her inner Anthony Keddis which really isn’t something you would expect out of a female vocalist, but she pulls it off without a second glance. I am not saying that she sounds anything like Keddis, but the vocal styling, flow and delivery, you could definitely hear him doing this song.
While I mentioned Em Jamison and MacLean James more than JD and Cameron, don’t think for a second that they don’t deliver just as much on every track as Em and MacLean. This group is so tight musically, that JD and Cameron just meld into each track flawlessly. https://buildingrocketsband.bandcamp.com/releases