REVIEW: Parachute – The Way It Was

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Artist: Parachute
Album: The Way It Was
Genre: Pop Rock
Label: Mercury/ Island Def Jam

We all have our musical tastes and personal favorites that differ from the tastes and favorites of others. We all have those bands that, no matter what, remain aa your personal favorites. In my case, Parachute is one of those bands and they have remained with me for a great many years. On Under The Gun Review, I tend to review a lot of pop punk and hardcore albums. They’re what’s popular and it’s what the kids are reading. Don’t get me wrong, I love bands like Take Cover, Fireworks, Alesana, and Breakdown of Sanity. If you want to find what I truly love, however, it’s in pop rock that you’ll find my roots. Parachute (formerly Sparky’s Flaw) has consistently provided me with amazing music that I can listen to repetitively without tiring. The Way It Was is not only my favorite record from the group so far, it is also my favorite record so far this year.

Parachute began in 2008 under the moniker Sparky’s Flaw. After three releases, the band changed their name and wrote and released Losing Sleep. Losing Sleep did not reach the success it deserved, but it still debuted at number 2 on the digital release charts. Not too shabby. Parachute has toured with O.A.R., Matt Nathanson, Kelly Clarkson, Palin White T’s, The Goo Goo Dolls, and many others. The band continued to gain recognition by appearing on television programs like Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America, The Early Show, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The Way It Was was released on the 17th of May and reached #1 on the iTunes Rock Charts and #2 overall. I completely expected this well deserved reception.

To be honest, I have put this review off for several days for two reasons. First, I have not had the drive or time to write when all I want to do is listen to this record. Second, I have no idea how I can put into words the magnificence of this collection of lyrical, melodic, and instrumental perfection. I had high expectations for The Way It Was, and when I have set the bar high for a record, I usually end up disappointed. This is a well-needed exception.

White Dress starts the album off with an upbeat vibe that immediately sends the toes a’tappin’ and head a’bobbin’. If you are a new listener, take a moment to take in your surroundings as you experience Will Anderson’s voice for the first time. Will’s has a way of writing songs that both convey his feelings and thoughts, and infects the listener. The control he has on his voice is nearly incomparable.

You and Me is an uplifting song reflecting the excitement and depression that accompanies love. Anderson is dreaming of a Bonnie & Clyde type scenario. Freud may suggest that he is deeply infatuated with the female subject of his dream. Missing out on a real life relationship, Will manifests one while he sleeps. With he, the robber, and she, the driver, the couple commits the perfect crime and all ends happy. That is until he awakes and finds himself alone again. Maybe if he had done something differently she would be there dreaming alongside him.

Something To Believe In is the lead single from the record. I would not have picked this song per se, but it is definitely one of the strongest on the album. It is excellently produced and written. It not only features the inspiring vocals of Anderson, but also a full choir of soulful Baptists. A supposedly African American woman belts out several lines, perfectly complimenting the powerful tones of Parachute’s lead vocalist. Lyrically, the song is a pathway to finding faith. The song’s doubtful subject is waiting around, waiting for God to find them, but God can’t find his way into them without a little help. It’s a rough life we have to live, but for some, having faith in something more than themselves can make a world of difference. I can deeply relate to this song and I think many listeners will find something in this song.

Forever and Always is both the best song on the album and now my marriage proposal (this is more romantic than my Pokémon idea). Furthermore, I love a story, and I love when it’s put to music. I’m not going to type this one out for you. I want you to listen to this song. There is no way I can explain it better than it is already written. This story is incredibly sad, but it’s a good reminder of how short life is.

Now do something for me. Stop reading. Take a moment to tell your nearest loved one that you love them. You never know when life is going to be cut short. Resume Reading.

I have listened to this song somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 times. I don’t think I will ever tire of the story it tells or the melody it brings. This song is what makes music so special to me. It makes me think, it makes me cry, it makes me glad. It isn’t just track 4 on an album. It is something in itself that can’t be reproduced. If you are strapped for cash and can’t afford to buy The Way It Was, just buy this single. You won’t regret it. [update: Play count 60+ (I listen while I write)]

What I Know is track 5 on The Way it Was and is as about as close to a title track as you can get (there being two songs with the album’s title within them). This song deals with a girl leaving the singer for someone else. Despite his pleas, she leaves without giving him any hint as to a reason. So, he drives. He drives and tries to figure it all out. Plenty of choir echoes resound in the background and the beat pounds through to the very end.

American Secrets is an awfully appealing song. Also containing the album title its lyrics, the song has two parts. The first half is summer themed pop number. A couple is out driving around and enjoying the company each provide for each other. However, as the sunlight fades, their date does as well and the girl leaves the boy to return to her home. The calendar might say that day has ended, but it continues on in the boy’s head.

Years later, a man who was once the boy in that car has come to realize what the girl really meant to him. It appears that she has passed on. He is eager to great her in Heaven. American Secrets is a pure love song as only Parachute could provide.

Kiss Me Slowly is the second best song on the album. It’s play count in winamp only surpasses Forever and Always because it was released earlier as a single. Radio ready, this song is romantic and impossible to resist. This song made me more excited for an album than any single I have heard before. I had it on repeat for somewhere around 5 hours one day while I showered, washed dishes, and shot some hoops. I sang along the entire time. I find it amazing that I haven’t grown tired of it yet. It must be good.

Halfway differs musically from the rest of the album. It holds a certain classic rock/blues/pop vibe that sticks out from the rest of the tracks. As does the sassiness of the lyrics. Will departs from the sappy love song and takes a dive into the edgier end of love. The girl is a player. She likes playing games with a new guy every night, but this boy is about to change that. “He may not be what she wants, but he is gonna be her halfway.”

Philadelphia closes the album on a smooth note. Almost a John Mayer like song, it follows a man and a woman. They both have problems in love and I’m not going to take it any further than that. The lyrics are hard to follow, but the song is epic in a beautiful sense and a perfect closer to a perfect album.

The Way it Was not only lived up to my expectations, it surpassed them tenfold. Anderson’s writing and singing talent grows with every record Parachute makes. The band is fantastic in all aspects, as always. Instrumentals are flawless (no pun intended) and little things are added here and there to keep things different. Parachute is a quality band that has plenty of lasting power. I will proudly say that they are one of my favorite bands until my dying day and after. Please buy this record and try it out for yourself. My writing cannot fully bring the album to justice, I just hope it is enough to entice you to listen and learn to love the band for yourself. To the band, producers, and management, bravo, an album well done.

Buy The Way it Was here.

Score: 10/10
Review Written By: Jacob Tender

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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