Laying in bed in my dorm a couple of nights ago, with my headphones in and my mind clear, I felt nothing but pure excitement at the prospect of listening to Parachute’s newest album, Wide Awake, a full week earlier than anticipated thanks to Pandora Premiers. I wasn’t able to stop listening after one time through though; no I sacrificed sleep, usually one of my favorite activities, to listen to the album three complete times. It’s just that good.
Parachute members Will Anderson, Kit French, and Johnny Stubblefield put out their best album yet. With vibes ranging from techno to gospel to 90s boy band, the album is one of the most eclectic, emotionally poignant, and most soulful—both in lyrics and music—that I’ve ever heard.
“Without You” and “What Side of Love” are the first two tracks and were released ahead of the album itself. Both songs are passionate, high energy, and a beautiful mix of pleading and hopeful. “Without You” is seriously reminiscent of Ed Sheeran while “What Side of Love” has clear gospel markers. Both songs are clearly about an intense love story. “Without You” promises that life simply wouldn’t be livable without her and “What Side of Love” pleads with her, “don’t give up on what we’ve got.”
The album continues with “Jennie,” an upbeat jam full of high notes, a boy band like chorus, and an ocean metaphor that is some how not cheesy at all. The rock and techno beats of the highly self aware and sad song, “Love Me Anyway,” make it really good; lyrics like “I might never show it but I know that I’m broken and you love me anyway” make your heart simultaneously break and grow three sizes a la The Grinch. “When You Move” features Taylor Swift-like lyrics with an additional female voice and induces a dream like trance.
The previously released songs “New Orleans” and “Crave” are both great sing-along tracks; the first relies on its gospel influence while the second has a talented group of background singers to help produce its full sound.
“Getaway” is the only song on the album that focuses more on the instrumentation than the lyrics. The 80s vibes, killer high notes, and the saxophone rocking out make this the exciting dance track the album needed.
“Everything” is as much a love letter to the girl its about as it is to New York City. Starting out with string instruments and soft piano, the songs builds quickly and just as quickly produces memories of John Mayer in his prime. While some songs about longing and belonging can feel overdone or redundant, Parachute avoids this pitfall with magical lyrics like, “every kiss from you feels like I’m coming home to a place I’ve never known but where I belong.”
The theme of longing continues with “Lonely With Me.” The feeling of wanting to be alone while feeling loved and needed is something that many likely feel, but can’t articulate. It’s wanting to be sad and wallow in your own pain while also kind of wishing that someone was there too. Parachute captures that feeling perfectly with lines like, “baby you should never be lonely but baby if you’re going to be lonely be lonely with me,” Anderson sings.
No contest the best song on the album is “What Breaks My Heart.” Not since “Forever and Always”—off of Parachute’s album The Way It Was—has a song affected me so deeply. This song is what moved the album from a great album by my favorite band to an album I won’t ever forget. Why you ask? Well, it was the first song to ever make me cry without any provocation. Sure I’ve cried during other songs if there was something emotional going on in my life, but I was so happy while listening to this album that I would have never thought it possible to suddenly burst into tears. But alas, that is exactly what happened.
The song goes through the stages of grief involved in ending a relationship. With soft piano and Anderson’s full voice, it is the most heartbreaking song I’ve heard. It begins with the two ex’s arriving at the same place and showcases the pain in seeing her with someone else. “It’s not the way I saw you kissing before you got out of the car but I could tell you really love him that’s what breaks my heart,” Anderson sings.
Some people in this situation may be bitter or try to hurt the other person as much as they are hurting, but when you truly love someone, as he clearly does in this song, you want them to be happy. This feeling is reflected beautifully in the last lines of the song: “You were leaving when you noticed/And you were kind to say hello/But there’s a truth I came to terms with as you walked out of the door/See there’s a chance you’ll never know it/There’s a hope in holding on/To finally know you’ll never love me/If I’m honest that’s what breaks my heart.”
The album concludes with the eerily wonderful “Waking Up.” The beginning notes of the song feature a women saying, “wake up,” much like a mother getting a child up and ready for the day. The song is hopeful, all about realizing who you are and what you want out of life, and going and getting it. The album concludes with the excited and buoyant lyric, “I’m finally waking up.” This album certainly woke me up and exposed me to something truly great.
You can stream Wide Awake on Pandora until the album is officially released this Friday, March 11th. If you want to own the album the second it comes out (trust me, you do) you can preorder it here. And if you want to be taken on this emotional rollercoaster in front of a bunch of other people, Parachute is playing Irving Plaza on March 30th. Get your tickets here.
Images via Parachute’s Instagram