Recorded while the band members were college juniors at Tufts University, Guster's debut album, Parachute, was something of a surprise hit for the Boston-based trio. Hailed as the Best Local Debut Album of 1995 by the Boston Globe, the album features rootsy but unique instrumentation. The songs are dominated by the twin acoustic guitars and excellent vocal harmonies of Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner, while the drum kit-free percussion is handled by Brian Rosenworcel. Ignoring traditional rock drumming, Rosenworcel relies on bongos and other hand percussion instruments to create a unique, full, one-man rhythm section. The songs are augmented by guest musicians who contribute bass, drums, and various strings, but they are mostly relegated to the background. Ranging from exuberant folk-rock to mournful ballads, the song writing is excellent, although, at this stage in their career, Guster is clearly learning how to best utilize their strengths while filling in the gaps in their sound. Producer Mike Denneen does an admirable job, but at times the sound is thin and unimaginative. He succeeds more often than not, adding swelling strings to the heartfelt vocals and strummed guitars title of the title track. Parachute is a remarkably enjoyable independent debut album. The songs are somewhat constrained by the band and producer's inexperience, but Guster proves it's better to struggle a bit with ambitious music than play mediocre material well.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Vanderhoff