Nick Jonas & The Administration Who I Am(Hollywood Records) Buy it from Insound
Unless you are the sort of person that has been without a radio, a television, a magazine or Internet access for the last several years, you have probably heard of Nick Jonas (and if you are that sort of person, welcome to the Internet! Thanks for choosing No Ripcord!) Still, here are the facts:
- Nick Jonas is one-third of the Jonas Brothers, a wildly successful, Disney-backed pop-rock band.
- The Jonas Brothers' success is due partially to their radio-friendly rock songs, partially to their alignement with Disney and partially to their "good boy" image, which has garnered them a large female fanbase (ages 8 to 16, mostly).
- Who I Am is Nick Jonas's second album, the first since his 2004 release and the first solo release since his Jonas Brothers success.
Now, I don't expect anyone to have any sympathy for a good looking, hyper-wealthy young man with an army of young women clamoring for him and more fame than Moses, but there is evidence to suggest that Jonas wishes to be taken seriously as a songwriter and that'll be near impossible given his teen-pop fame. Who I Am is an attempt at a much more mature sound than Jonas would be able to put forth with his “brothers,” one that aims to distance himself from his celebrity and establish him as crossover adult-rock star.
So let it be said now: Who I Am doesn't sound like the Jonas Brothers, it sounds like Nick Jonas. I'm just not really sure that is such a good thing.
This album is one wacky affair. Featuring members of the New Power Generation (fucking Prince's backing band!), songs jump from John Mayer-like easy listening to top 40 adult pop to weird faux-funk outbursts. The funk tunes, like the Stevie-Wonder-biting State of Emergency and the bewildering Conspiracy Theory, are played well enough by the NPG, but there is something awkward about hearing Jonas cut loose with “Woo!s” and “Yeah!s” and the like. His voice, while fine enough, doesn't really lend itself to soulful power vocals.
While Jonas fairs better on his John Mayer knockoffs, it is his adult-rock songs that have him sounding best. The title track is an A-OK piece of top 40 writing that would easily appeal to someone who has completed puberty and can probably serve as an indication of where Jonas will end up.
Who I Am, then, can be thought of as a teen pop star trying to establish himself as something more and the sound of him misstepping through experimentation. Should his solo career continue, this record could stand as an in between point between his teen past and his adult future, but as it stands now, it's just a muddled, occasionally interesting but often baffling pop-rock album. Nick Jonas might never be the next Prince, but he'll make a fine Rob Thomas someday, and that's not bad for a dude who doesn't wanna be tied to Disney for the rest of his life.