Baby Jonas goes it alone

Does Nick have merit sans siblings?

PHOTO COURTESY HOLLYWOOD RECORDS

PHOTO COURTESY HOLLYWOOD RECORDS

Kara Nesvig

NICK JONAS ALBUM: âÄúWho I AmâÄù LABEL: Hollywood Records I have very little shame in admitting my Nick Jonas fascination. The kid is the musical mastermind in his sibling three-piece, loves Elvis Costello and thankfully his sense of style has evolved past âÄúpimp/grandpa.âÄù Now heâÄôs seeking to prove that his music prowess has also evolved with a solo album, âÄúWho I Am.âÄù HereâÄôs the equation: Nick Jonas minus brothers plus members of PrinceâÄôs New Power Generation band equals screaming girls whoâÄôve probably had âÄúWho I AmâÄù on iTunes pre-ordered since July. âÄúWho I AmâÄù isnâÄôt a radical departure from the Jonas repertoire, though its blues-and-âÄô70s-funk influenced sound feels more at home on Adult Alternative than Radio Disney. Anyone with scant knowledge in musical history can tell that baby Jonas is aping the styles of some of his heroes, nabbing Stevie WonderâÄôs keyboard bounce on âÄúState of EmergencyâÄù and âÄúLast Time AroundâÄù and attempting, but not quite succeeding, to craft a piece of music on par with Costello. But haters to the left âÄî the kid has talent. He plays several instruments, from guitar to glockenspiel, and he sounds relatively comfortable bossing around a bunch of older men whoâÄôve played with the Purple One. âÄúWho I AmâÄù sounds like something a 17-year-old boy eager to grow up and expand his sound would create. But what you guys want to know is, is there anything about Miley on this record? Not really, but his tales of female adventures seem tall for a kid of 17, especially one who wears a purity ring. The toxic chicks and failed romances cause me to raise an eyebrow, and the she-devil he sings about in âÄúState of EmergencyâÄù might be fictional. The lead single, âÄúWho I Am,âÄù has baby Jonas pleading for some unnamed girl to love him for who he is, not because heâÄôs MileyâÄôs ex, or because he has diabetes or because heâÄôs in a band with a Disney Channel show. However, I think Nick needs a little more experience with the ladies to really nail the sexy blues heâÄôs aiming for. ItâÄôs to be expected with an ambitious undertaking and departure from the familial nest that a solo album wonâÄôt be perfect. ThereâÄôs a lot of filler on âÄúWho I Am.âÄù Every solid pop song is framed with a cheesy ballad meant for NickâÄôs target teen audience, but the mechanics are done with more sophistication. But thereâÄôs no question that Nick can pen a teenybop pop song and make it cash in. Though he insists âÄúIn the EndâÄù is his homage to Bill Withers, it appeals more to 14-year-olds. Lyrics like âÄúWhen you donâÄôt have a friend/And you donâÄôt know who you can trust/Now youâÄôre stuck/On the wrong side of the fence,âÄù could easily narrate tales of getting oneâÄôs milk money stolen. ItâÄôs not fair to write baby Jonas off because of his boy band roots; we didnâÄôt do it to Justin Timberlake, the Beatles or the Beach Boys. Given a bit more room to experiment, maybe heâÄôll stick around awhile. Even though itâÄôs less cloying and manufactured than the work Nick does with his (less talented/hot) brothers, âÄúWho I AmâÄù is still a slick production with shreds of authenticity that promise good things for NickâÄôs future.