Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Album review: Nick Jonas & the Administration's 'Who I Am'

February 2, 2010 |  3:31 pm

Nick_Jonas_Who_240_  Give Nick Jonas credit. Despite being a member of one of the world's most well-known brands in the Jonas Brothers, he's willing to take some risks. How else to explain this collection of well-mannered, slightly funky, adult-leaning pop? Whereas most teen artists are looking to pair up with the hottest songwriters or producers, Jonas has recruited former members of Prince's New Power Generation to back him. 

Which means that he means business. Unfortunately, one shouldn't go looking for a groove; the backing band isn't given nearly as big a workout here as Jonas' falsetto. 

The youngest Jonas sings and yelps as if he's trying to will some rock 'n' roll whiskers or has something to prove. "She'll charge you by the hour for a straight trip down to hell," he sings with grown-up gusto over a '70s funk bass on "State of Emergency." He's best when he reins it in, as he does on the lovely and unadorned "Vesper's Goodbye."

But too often Jonas is 17 going on John Mayer, at least in spirit, crafting lightly adorned melodies that dip briefly into blues and soul. Despite the seeming stylistic leaps -- bar-band blues on "Conspiracy Theory," a noir-ish ballad on "In the End" and a minimalist keyboard-guitar strut on "Rose Garden" -- "Who I Am" all feels a bit tentative. Recorded, supposedly, in just two weeks, think of it as "Camp Soul." 

-- Todd Martens 

Nick Jonas & the Administration
 "Who I Am"
 Hollywood Records
 Two stars (Out of four)