If Prince, John Mayer and Stevie Wonder have anything in common, besides renowned musical excellence, it’s that Nick Jonas has decided to smash them into one force.
The sweet-faced front man of the Jonas Brothers released his solo album, “Who I Am” on Feb. 2, which is an intriguing blend of rock, funk, soul and the high-pitched squeals of a tween-idol — a combination that, like the Jonas Brothers themselves, leaves you confused yet happily humming along.
This is his second solo-project, the first being an endearing self-titled compilation he recorded at age eleven.
Fans are introduced to “Who I Am” with a breathy, obviously Mayer influenced “Rose Garden.” At its onset, the song is such a cry to “Your Body is a Wonderland” that listeners might refer to the cover and ensure it doesn’t actually read “John Mayer and the Administration.” The music is light, catchy and lyrically perplexing but a clumsy beginning to the album.
The title track is a poppy, stuck-in-your-head tune of levity. Jonas’s youthful voice cries, “I want someone to love me for who I am,” catering perfectly to the demographic of young, puppy-love awaiting females.
Jonas takes a shot at Justin Timberlake-esque high notes in his soulful “Olive & an Arrow.” The song is about what he and his brothers know best – trite love. Thankfully, the song is revived by the mouth-watering guitar solos of David Harris.
Fortunately, Jonas is determined to prove his musical maturity when he takes on the Prince inspired, high-frequency wails on “Conspiracy Theory.” The song is a guitar heavy, rock infused number that even skeptics will want to bang their heads to. “State of Emergency” is an absolutely infectious, funky nod to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” and deserves more than just a mention. Jonas combines his beloved melodic tone with bursts of gritty vocals to claim “she’ll let you go” and carries his fans through a show-stopping, danceable piece.
Though his lyrics are sometimes sophomoric, (“Don’t forget about the fun that we had”) the propelling two-step beat, heavy drums and energetic guitar riffs of “Last Time Around” will drive fans to sing the title out loud while Jonas screams in throw-back Steven Tyler fashion.
Despite its frequent naivety and obvious cry for acceptance in the grown-up music industry, one can’t help singing along to Nick Jonas’s album. There’s no shame in uttering the adolescent, albeit heartfelt, lyrics transposed straight from his Mead composition notebook.
Truthfully, Nick Jonas isn’t leaving the pop-culture soundstage anytime soon.
So what if his songs seem a little cliche or that he simply seems to piece together copies of his influences? It doesn’t seem to bother the thousands of screaming prepubescent girls who have forged Jonas shrines in their bedrooms. We may as well join them and fall for his handsome smile and boyish charm, even if his album never quite tells us who he is.
Angelica Szani can be reached at email@example.com.