2010 solo album from Nick Jonas, one third of the Jonas Brothers and a huge musical phenomenon. With some downtime in 2009, Nick Jonas took the opportunity to form a side project called Nick Jonas & The Administration, whi... more »ch also includes drummer Michael Bland (Prince, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, Rob Thomas), keyboardist Tommy Barbarella (Prince, Switchfoot, Jonny Lang), album-only guitarist David Ryan Harris (John Mayer, Santana) and bassist John Fields (producer of Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Pink) who also produced the CD. Fueling the album's 10 songs was Nick's long-held fascination with politics, especially politics at the top. Throughout, Nick places allusions to the trappings of the Presidency, from the White House Rose Garden to the symbolic olive branch and arrows clutched in the talons of the American eagle (fans will have fun spotting all the clues). But "Who I Am" is not a political album. Rather, through the idiom of Rock and Soul music, it's a survey of the ungovernable human heart.« less
2010 solo album from Nick Jonas, one third of the Jonas Brothers and a huge musical phenomenon. With some downtime in 2009, Nick Jonas took the opportunity to form a side project called Nick Jonas & The Administration, which also includes drummer Michael Bland (Prince, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, Rob Thomas), keyboardist Tommy Barbarella (Prince, Switchfoot, Jonny Lang), album-only guitarist David Ryan Harris (John Mayer, Santana) and bassist John Fields (producer of Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Pink) who also produced the CD. Fueling the album's 10 songs was Nick's long-held fascination with politics, especially politics at the top. Throughout, Nick places allusions to the trappings of the Presidency, from the White House Rose Garden to the symbolic olive branch and arrows clutched in the talons of the American eagle (fans will have fun spotting all the clues). But "Who I Am" is not a political album. Rather, through the idiom of Rock and Soul music, it's a survey of the ungovernable human heart.
"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."
This kid has got some serious skills!
JFlo | Pasadena, CA United States | 02/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
Very pleasantly surprised.
Rich Rogers | Utah | 03/30/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
He was really held back
McBowlerpimp | W. Syracuse, NE | 04/22/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!!!"
A Youth with an Old Soul
Steven Haarala | Mandeville, LA USA | 03/27/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."