Likes: Jealous, Push, Avalanche, Chains (Just a Gent Remix)
Dislikes: Take Over
Overall: Sincere, great R&B/pop album; don’t sleep on Nick Jonas
It’s funny Nick Jonas would drop an album now; I was about to do a “You Should Hear This” profile on his underrated 2010 LP Nick Jonas & The Administration. The 22-year-old springs from the Disney band, The Jonas Brothers. Despite much popularity as a trio, none of the brothers have seen similar success solo. Additionally, critics are usually more speculative when you’re affiliated with the mouse. Administration proved that such suspicion and dismissal is unjust, as it showed Jonas’ ability as a musician and songwriter. It also gave evidence to his versatility; it was surprisingly sexy, blues-tinged and John Mayer-ish. For the new Nick Jonas, he went for a different kind of blues…rhythm and blues. For some reason, unlike music by some other folk, this Jonas’ brand of R&B/pop doesn’t come off as syrupy, an exploitation or cheap imitation of the real thing or a trick for mainstream notoriety. Maybe it’s because the “pop” part isn’t all that pop; more of the light rock the Jo Bros. utilized is in the air (ex. “I Want You,” “Santa Barbara”) versus bubblegum. The most overtly contemporary-sounding song is “Numb,” (which reminded me of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”) with rapper Angel Haze. Although Haze’s rhymes are better than the average hip-hop feature, the track’s entire feel screams “We wanted Nicki Minaj.” The album’s musical production is very chanted, with pounding and driving beats (ex. “Wilderness), echoes and hollowness. This is going to sound strange, but it made me think of being at the bottom of the ocean.
Vocally, Jonas has grown and progressed from high-pitched and nasally, to a thicker, deeper and more polished texture (don’t say “Duh, puberty!” because they are many male singers who never got within 12 feet of Barry White). His diction still needs work, however. When it comes to lyrics, man, can Nick Jonas write some songs! Earnestness and imagery are his forte. Sometimes the same symbols are used, but it’s forgivable. The album’s focus is love under pressure. What I loved and found most interesting is that he gives 2 impressions of it. Songs like “Chains” & “I Want You” are on the fatal attraction end, while tracks like “Avalanche” & “Push” (which I’m obsessed with), are on the “loving couple who’s lost their way” tip. Jonas’ Camp Rock costar and frequent collaborative partner, Demi Lovato, is featured on “Avalanche.” In view of Lovato’s expressed fancy for soul music and dabblings in R&B, I just knew she would use her own richer tone and lower register on “Avalanche,” but she kept with her pop/rock lungs. That’s okay and the song is still fantastic, I just prepared my palette for a tasty R&B’d-up duet. For those wondering if Jonas went all rated-R now that he’s in his 20’s, no, he didn’t…that much. There’s a few expletives and 2 mildly suggestive songs (“Take Over” & “Closer”), but that’s it. Jonas is 1 of the rare performers that realized artistry and expansion are the true signals of maturation. In this day, where 90% of new albums are missing some, if not many, pertinent pieces, Nick Jonas has nearly everything it needs.