Album Review

A Jonas brother’s growing pains

February 1, 2010

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Considering the many indications that he’s the Jonas brother with the lion’s share of the talent, it shouldn’t be surprising that Nick Jonas is the first out of the gate with a solo album. What’s surprising is that when he’s cut loose from the chaff of his brothers, the result is an album that’s all chaff. “Who I Am’’ abandons the ADHD power pop of the JoBros in favor of an apparent survey of adult-contemporary soul-pop from the 1970s and ’80s. The chilly and antiseptic “In The End’’ is all jazzy slow-jam electric piano, with tinkling chimes that brush the end of the chorus, while “State of Emergency’’ is light funk to the point of being pastel. He’s not helped by the Administration, which doesn’t sound like a band so much as the closest session pros at hand when the project was first floated. (Which may explain the existence of some of the least spontaneous-sounding interband chatter in history right before the solos in “Last Time Around’’ and “In the End.’’) But the biggest problem is that Jonas doesn’t have nearly the life experience needed to pull off songs like the organ-fueled metallic Sly Stone screamer “Conspiracy Theory’’ or 11th-hour death ballad “Vesper’s Goodbye.’’ With nothing to appeal to his tween fan base - a new version of the Jonases’ “Tonight’’ drags despite not being much slower than the original - and no reason for adult listeners to care, “Who I Am’’ ends up with a major identity crisis. MARC HIRSH

Nick Jonas and the Administration Who I Am