Review Summary: As it stands now, Nick Jonas is nothing without Kevin and Joe.
Nick Jonas is off to do his own thing once again for this year’s Who I Am
. Far removed from the pop-rock, teenage ruckus of the past, combined efforts with his brothers, the Disney artist’s new album with ”The Administration”--bassist John Fields, drummer Michael Bland, keyboardist Tommy Barbarella, and guitarist David Ryan Harris--plays to a John Mayer-lite sound with jazzy guitar lines and placid moods that seems like it's trying to reach a new audience of women altogether. Playing with his surprisingly versatile vocal range and groovy guitar riffs, Nick seems to be capable of achieving what he sets out to do on Who I Am
. That being said, being capable
of achieving a goal and actually
achieving a goal are two different things. What actually comes off this album is something altogether evil.
Nick Jonas and The Administration are set to pull off the songwriter’s second album away from brothers Kevin and Joe. Nick takes prominence on the record, which is to be expected, and as such, The Administration plays out more like a studio recording element rather than a full-on inclusion of the music. Opener “Rose Garden” plays around the subject in question with its finger-snapping pace and what is probably Nick’s worst vocal performance to be found on Who I Am
. Nasally, juvenile vocals pave a foundation for a verse that starts on, 'I’m a beautiful mistake…’
. Wait--hold it there, Nick. Don’t set yourself up for failure so early on. The track then transitions to a high, drawn-out delivery in the chorus that can’t quite get there
. The Disney star sounds as if he’s starving for breath, and he just can’t hit the high notes. Let’s just say that a slow mess of a song like this is not the best way to start out an album.
Fortunately, Nick Jonas and The Administration do not wallow in the depths of despair for too long--relatively speaking, that is. Later on, “Conspiracy” sees Nick and crew bump the distortion up a bit to give the listener an unexpected audio punch in the face. Dodgy vocals are heard here once again, however, and it’s not until “Tonight” that we see the performer settle down and actually put something decent to the mic. It’s a mellow-paced ballad and is probably too melodramatic for many to bear, true, but it’s also one of the rare occasional where Nick doesn’t try to jump over the Grand Canyon with his vocals. An odd, yet pliable keyboard riff dominates much of next track “State of Emergency”. Nick’s tone stays in the high level of his range for the majority of the song--again
--and we see the band play a distant, second fiddle to the performer--also, again
. What is it with these Disney stars taking dominance in everything these days?
’I wanna know I’m not the only one around’
, states Nick on finale “Stronger (Back On The Ground)”. That’s kind of funny, Nick--I was kind of wanting to know the same thing about you. This may be the very reason why Who I Am
fails as a record. In an attempt to reach a new audience, Nick Jonas has set himself up in a position where he gets all of the spotlight; in doing so, we see, but more noticeably hear, his faults in full. Jazzy guitar lines and articulately-conceived guitar solos are enough to give the Disney artist some credit; however, when these respectable inclusions are paired up with juvenile vocals that take predominance in the mix, we have a problem. What’s more, the reference to this group’s John Mayer-like sound may be their true downfall in the mainstream market. Sadly, the Jonas Brothers’ hooks won't be here to save Nick when the singles charts come to take their dues. In picking up on the similarities between Nick Jonas and The Administration and all of the other Top 40 adult artists, people will probably go for some John Mayer or Jack Johnson instead. In essence, the title ‘Who I Am’ stands as an ironic slogan when comparing this record to the Jonas Brothers’ albums of the past: as it stands now, Nick Jonas is nothing without Kevin and Joe.