Nick Jonas

Nicholas Jonas

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Ah, this is when things get a bit touchy. Nicholas Jonas is a 12-year-old stage prodigy who, according to the press kit, wrote most of these songs in collaboration with family members and is "already being compared to a young Stevie Wonder." Having made a name for himself in Broadway shows and on TV appearances, he is now apparently being groomed as a Christian lite-soul artist. His eponymous debut is something of a mixed bag, and while the obvious temptation is to cut him some slack because he is, for crying out loud, only 12 years old, this also may be the best time to warn him away from some pitfalls that gape before him. For example, we don't need any more songs titled "Dear God." We just don't. For another thing, his strong, bell-like treble voice is much more effective when counterposed with muscular guitar rock (as it is on "Time for Me to Fly" and his fun cover version of "Higher Love") than when it's swaddled in goopy, balladic bathos (as it is on "Dear God" and "I Will Be the Light"). Also, it's not cool to rip off the Jackson 5 -- at least, not as brazenly as he does on "Crazy Kind of Crush." These are probably not mistakes that Jonas himself is making; they're examples of how important it is to pick your handlers carefully, and he's going to need some solid guidance. But if he gets it, there's no question that his phenomenal talent will take him pretty much wherever he wants to go.