on February 9, 2010
After several listens, I have to admit, somewhat reluctantly, that "Who I Am" is a great album. I purchased it on a lark when Amazon offered it at a special price on its release date. I'm not a fan of boy bands, and I certainly don't fit their target demographic-- I'm over 30 years older than Nick Jonas -- so I didn't expect any more than to explore some new music and perhaps find a few tracks that were keepers. Despite my initial bias, I can't help but love this album.
This is an impressive debut by the 17-year-old. The musicianship on the album is superb, Jonas' vocals are solid, and the songs themselves are full of strong melodies and good hooks. The standout tracks are "Rose Garden," "Who I Am," "State of Emergency," and "Vesper's Goodbye."
The comparisons to John Mayer and to early Stevie Wonder are inevitable, but there is nothing wrong with being influenced by some great musical artists. Compared to John Mayer, Nick Jonas & The Administration has a bit more of a pop feel. The similarity to Stevie Wonder is most obvious on "State of Emergency," where at times you almost expect to hear Stevie belt out "Very superstitious ... writing's on the wall ..."
It will be interesting to see how well this album does. "Who I Am" is not teen pop. Instead, it fits into the adult contemporary genre. As a result, it may not be received well by the younger set. On the other hand, some of the more mature set may be hesitant to try out an album by one of the Jonas brothers, with the possible exception of parents who have grown to like music that their kids are listening to.
My advice, stealing an album title that George Michael used when he wanted to change his musical identity, is to listen without prejudice.
on March 29, 2010
Before I caught Nick and the Administration on the Jay Leno show a while back, all I knew about the Jonas Brothers is that they are cute Disney popsters who produced generic Top 40 material. But that encounter sent me out to buy the album, and it's a good investment.
The real key here is that Nick is smart enough to surround himself with a band built of musicians with far more experience than he has. (Whether that was his choice or that of his label, I don't know but it's a smart one, and he should keep listening to wherever those ideas are coming from.) Instead of Top 40 pablum, Nick moves toward blues-based rock, which is a more lasting sound. He's got a guitarist here who really knows how to make the instrument sing, and does some decent slide guitar riffs, and his keyboard player knows his way around a Hammond organ. For an old rocker like me, those are always good signs. All these things give the album a suprising heft that goes beyond Nick's 17 years.
(For the record, I'm more than 30 years his senior, and I prefer blues, classic rock and heavy metal, generally. But this is a smart album.)
Some here make the comparison to John Mayer. I'm not much a fan Mayer fan, and for me the most irritating thing on the album is Nick's tendency toward the breathy Mayeresque vocals. I think, however, that may be a function of his age, and his voice not having fully matured yet. There are other places on the album where Nick's voice shows some real grit.
Some here have been dismissive of Nick because he's only 17, and how can a 17 year-old really have the chops for good rock? All I have to say is that Neal Schon, one of the co-founders of Journey was touring with Santana when he was 17 and still in high school. Age has nothing to do with talent.
If Nick continues on this road he could turn into a serious musician. We'll see what the future brings.
on February 7, 2010
I'll keep this real simple. I've never been or real Jonas Bro fan or even paid attention to the type of music they put out but this Nick Jonas kid has some serious skill for his age. It amazes me that a kid this young can write, play and sing at this level. This kid has some serious feeling and soul behind his music! Great album, the first of many that I'm sure will follow. He very much reminds me of a young John Mayer and will only get better with age and experience which is scary considering how good he is already!
on April 22, 2010
It is sooooo clear after listening to this nugget that the ridiculous talent of Nick Jonas was held back by the Disney star machine. Much like Randy Jackson was the driving force behind the Jackson five and Gary Fencik was the cog that made the Chicago Bears Shufflin Crew run, Nick is the true star. He really gets to shine on this release. He is surrounded by other great artists in what becomes a hootenanny of musical genius.
How ironic that a guy that played drums for Rob Thomas would have the last name Bland?
This thing is very similiar to Ronnie James Dio's early work in that it takes music, kicks it in the Jimmy and sends it to it's room. It's a rockin vibe from a rockin guy. Nick Jonas has the guts to lay out Conspiracy Theories, but still have a song called Stronger. One would assume that it's a cover of the Britney Spears anthem "Stronger", but it's totally not. It's a different song! Take that Disney says Nick Jonas. He's out of control! He also has a song called "in the end". Is it a cover of the Linkin Park song? No Way! He does his own song with that title too. Can you stop this kid with a poorly built fence? Heck no you can't!! He's coming at you like a bulldozer with a microphone!! Get the heck out of his way, it's Nick Jonas!! His brothers are terrified of him now as he has morphed into an uncontrollable super monster truck of musical craziness. He's like Bigfoot without all of the hair.
Don't try to stop this release, it's the best album I've heard this year!!!
on March 26, 2010
From what I have read, I gather that Nick Jonas desires a career as a serious musician. This album is apparently a step in that direction. Does it work? I think it does. All songs were written or co-written by Nick. This is not a bubble-gum, teen-idol album. The lyrics are simple and direct, as you would expect from one so young. They are about relationships and self-examination. But it is the general tone of the music that surprises me. Nick is acknowledged to be the brains behind the fame and fortune of The Jonas Brothers, an accomplishment he can be proud of. But this liberating success has not turned him into an over-the-top caricature of a rocker like, for instance, the 80's "hair" bands. The songs on this album are not for partying. They are for listening.
The music and lyrics have frequent dark, or at least mature, overtones. The sound in general is retro, vaguely reminding me sometimes of mid-90's rock (Counting Crows, Wallflowers), and sometimes of soul-influenced rock circa 1970, as in Janis Joplin's solo bands, or 70's funk. The opening track, "Rose Garden", is in a minor key, about a girl who is "wise beyond her years"; it contains early 70's R&B guitar licks. Another minor key song is the somber ballad "In The End", in which Nick warns, "Baby it all comes back to haunt you in the end". "State of Emergency" opens with a funky Stevie Wonder hook, and the girl in this song will "...charge you by the hour for a straight trip down to Hell." Another touch of funk is heard in "Conspiracy Theory", which otherwise is a basic rocker with a good hook. "Tonight" is more in a pop vein, but even here the situation is not bright: "As the morning sun begins to rise we're fading fast." The title cut asks, "I want someone to need me, is that so bad?" And some redemption comes in the final cut, "Stronger". In this mid-tempo track with a thumping bass, Nick sings, "I wanna know that you'll be with me when everything around is fallin' down...you makin' me stronger than I've ever been now." Probably the most teen-idol sounding number is "Last Time Around", which has a bit of forced swagger.
So Nick, whom I have noticed not to be an extrovert in photos and appearances, seems to be able to unleash his passions in the studio with a group of professional rock musicians. As far as his youth permits, he lets it all hang out. His youth shows in his vocals. Not that his voice isn't pleasing or compelling, but hey, he's 17. Even Dylan was young once, and youth is not an unattractive commodity. I envy him his position at the threshold of so many possibilities. Anyway, I find this to be a surprisingly satisfying pop-rock effort. Furthermore, for those to whom this is important, it is comparatively free of electronic studio effects - it's mainly just Nick and his Administration.
on March 18, 2011
This is a great first solo effort by Nick Jonas. Nick goes way out over his head when writing about love relationships of which he has had none of substance... but his imagination and knowledge of what works with lyrics and with notes pulls it all off. At age 18, Nick is just getting to know his own sexual identity and is thinking about going to collage, in a possable eventual quest for the White House, where about four years of sexual exploration would also likely take place. Nick maybe should entertain the idea of being first man initailly rather than going stright to President. Skipping collage, going gay, saying yes to his President... he will be as likely to be ready for a Presidency of his own by 2040 that route for sure. Anyway, the CD and Nick are both interesting, if you are a mature about music and don't need a lot of shallow pop hooks and such, this CD won't disappoint you. JonJonas for President and NickJonas for first man 2016.
on February 16, 2010
I'm not at all in the target age group for the Jonas Brothers but I am a very big fan of their music (and their morals... hey, I'm a mom). So needless to say, I was curious to see what Nick would do on his own. In the end, he's most definitely crossed the chasm from teen pop-rock to adult contemporary pop-rock. It's no secret that Nick is musically brilliant, so the fact that he's exploring new avenues isn't a shock, nor is the fact that he can gather artists far more experienced and skilled than himself to back his music. Several tracks are fairly forgettable, for me, simply because I can't appreciate the Prince-like vibe of his singing. The music, funk pop-rock, I can get behind 100%. The strained falsetto and screaming I can't. Overall, the album is excellent but it takes a few listens to really appreciate. It's most definitely not the Jonas Brothers. Which for some is great; for fans of JB, it takes a while to shift gears. That's not a bad thing at all; it just takes a little work to get in the groove of a much less produced and synthed album. Nick has done well for himself and has been wise in the musicians he's chosen to surround himself with. He'll have a long career, no doubt, and I really wouldn't be surprised with a Grammy nod or two next year. Overall, a fabulous freshman (I know, technically, sophmore) solo effort. His music is real and raw and fairly honest. You may not be sold right away, but giving the music time to percolate a bit, you'll find it really is pretty good.
on February 2, 2010
Wow this cd is great the lyrics are great.This has a completly different sound than the jonas brothers.I love it my favorite songs are Rose garden,Who i am,Tonight,Conspiricy theory,And stronger.i would reccomend this cd for people of all ages.
on April 27, 2010
First let me say I am NOT a Jonas Brother fan. I honestly didn't know who they were when I first heard about this album by Nick Jonas. I am 30 year old married mother of one young son. I am defintely not the "Jonas Brothers" demographic. However, I heard the song "Who I Am" performed at the Grammy Nominations and I liked it. I decided to buy the album after it had come out and I was blown away. I love funk and blues and this was nice mix of both. My favorite songs are "State of Emergency" and "Rose Garden". But all the songs are very good. I was shocked to find out that this kid is only 17 years old and recorded this album when he was 16. He's a gifted storyteller in his lyrics. I see very amazing things for him in the future. I think he should distance himself from his brothers and focus on his career as a solo artist. I know I could be shot for saying that becuase of those rabid JB fans out there, but it is how I feel. I look forward to hearing more from this young man.
on March 7, 2010
I liked all of the songs. It is a cd I would listen to when I am having a rough day and the vibe from all the songs is kind of I guess you would say Mellow. My favorite song is Who I Am it showcases that everyone is special in there own way and that you should love people for who they really are instead of what you would like for them to be. When I listened to the cd for the first time I instantly feel in love with it because it is something that everyone can relate to in most of the songs at first I was not so sure that it would be a good cd but in the end I understood what the songs really meant to me. I think that everyone will have a different views about it in the end though maybe everyone will understand what is like to be different and learning to deal with it all and not really caring what everyone else thinks about you. Listen to the cd and see if you feel the same way or not.