Nick Jonas & the Administration / Nick Jonas

Who I Am

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Nick Jonas rules the Jonas Brothers with such authority that he’s called the president within the JoBro inner circle, so stepping out on his own backed by the Administration (clever name there) isn’t a question of stifled creativity, it’s a statement of ambition. A close listen to the Brothers’ 2009 album Lines, Vines and Trying Times indicates exactly what that ambition would be: to sound like Steve Winwood backed by the New Power Generation, and that’s exactly what Nick achieves on 2010’s Who I Am. Immaculately manicured and impeccably clean, Who I Am alternates between slow soul ballads and vamps that run in place, always providing evidence of Jonas’ by-the-books good taste and studious sincerity. When he kicks up the clavinets on “State of Emergency,” it’s clear that he intends to evoke prime Stevie Wonder, just like how the smooth groove of “Rose Garden” is a nod to non-prime Prince. While it’s easy to admire his well-cultivated classicism, Who I Am is an awkward growth spurt, relying on songs designed as grooves but given performances too hemmed-in to be soulful and often undone by Nick’s thin teenage yelps, a sound whose resemblance to Michael Jackson only illustrates the distance between student and teacher.

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