ALBUM REVIEW | Nick Jonas “Nick Jonas”
If you haven’t heard of Nick Jonas in the last month, here is my first question: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? The middle brother of the former Jonas Brothers has literally been EVERYWHERE! Between live shows, promotional appearances and (let’s just say it, semi-naked) photoshoots –yes, THOSE ones,– the only reason why you could have missed him was if you lived under a rock, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this, so really, you have no excuses.
But let’s talk about what he got first known for, shall we? His music.
Four years after his last solo album with former band The Administration, Nick Jonas is BACK with a brand new image, album, label, sound… basically, a brand new EVERYTHING!
“It’s like starting over as a brand new artist,” the 22-year-old told Rolling Stone when he premiered his self-titled album on their site.
The record, that will be released on November 10th through Jonas’ new label Island Records, is a full mix of R&B, pop and soul. In addition to being Jonas’ first album with a Parental Advisory Warning label –yup, told you he’s all grown up– the album includes collaborations with Angel Haze, Mike Posner and Demi Lovato.
The record kicks off with “Chains,” in which Jonas rather successfully tries to postion himself as an adult. Produced by Jason Evigan, “Chains” was the first single from the record to be released. With a heavy beat, R&Bs vibes, and silky vocals, Jonas declares that he’s “Tryna break the chains / but the chains only break [him].”
The second song on the record is also the second single that was released, “Jealous.” Much like “Chains,” the song kicks off with a round of steady drumbeats, but instead of keeping the same beat throughout the song like the first single, “Jealous” grows towards a more ’70s vibe, making it really catchy and radio-friendly enough to land in the iTunes Top 10 charts. Now, as I had mentioned in my single review when the song first came out, the lyrics aren’t the best that we’ve had from Jonas. With statements such as “I turn my cheek, music up / And I’m puffing my chest / I’m getting ready to face you / Can call me obsessed,” Jonas is basically just claiming his territory over girlfriend, former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, and though I can’t blame the guy for trying, women are still not things that you can claim as yours.
The third track, “Teacher,” for which the lyric video came out yesterday, follows the line of “Jealous” musically speaking, and lyrics-wise. It showcases a crooner/sexy Jonas that recalls Justin Timberlake in “Like I Love You,” though the lyrics of “Teacher” are much more limited and repetitive, with a hook that goes “Oh mah / oh mah / oh mah God” and a chorus that consists essentially of the sentence “Why you do me wrong?” It is not necessarily my cup of tea, but it sells, and it looks like that’s what Jonas’ Team is aiming torwards when it comes to promotional singles.
Now, if you even just slightly know me, you for sure know that those first three singles had me worried that I wouldn’t like the whole album, for I’m more of a music that means something than music that sells kind of girl. Luckily, I didn’t judge the book by its cover and listened to the whole thing, which surprisingly appeared to be full of hidden gems. The first of these gems would be Track 4, “Warning.” Though the chorus is just as catchy as it is on the first few songs, the lyrics are much better -pun totally intended, Jonas fans ;)-. “I keep trying to escape from this cage that I live in / This prison in my head / Oh I own many mistakes from all of the things I never did / I carry my defence,” Jonas sings at the beginning of the song.
The fifth track, “Wilderness,” is another one of the promotional singles that fans got to hear early when pre-ordering the album on iTunes. Catchy from the beginning with some humming vocals in the background, this song is the proof that Nick Jonas is no longer this 16-year-old shy and awkward kid wearing a purity ring, but a 22-year-old grown-up man who isn’t afraid to admit that he likes sex. “Naked as the day we were born / Did you know it could feel like this? / I’ll take your body back, take it back, take it back to the wilderness”. Explicit enough, isn’t it?
The next track “Numb,” featuring rap artist Angel Haze, is the first collaboration to appear on the album. With a pop-trap template that recalls Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” the song finds Jonas going into a darker yet more sultry pop that includes hip-hop undertones, making it just as radio-friendly as “Jealous.” Co-written by Mike Posner, the track deals with the heartache that usually come after a nasty breakup. “Smile on my face / To cover the hurt / Spent so much time / But what was that worth?” Jonas questions in the song.
Track 7 is “Take Over,” and if anything, this song is the most sexual one you’ll find on the album, though you probably won’t notice it during the first listen because you’ll be busy dancing to the fun and upbeat rythm. I would go deeper into the lyrics, but I’ll just let them speak for themselves. “Let your naughty talk and dirty thoughts for me / Take over, take over, take over.”
Next track in line is “Push” and wow! For a moment, I swear I thought I had mistakenly played a Frank Ocean song. Jonas showcases his falsetto and songwriting skills perfectly through a song that deals with toxic relationships and two people drawing each other in, only to push the other away. “Come closer / So I can be the one to push you” Jonas sings in the chorus. If it hits home for you, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Remember that Parental Advisory Warning label? Yeah, well past the fact that Jonas mentions the F word in the explicit version of “Jealous”, the fact that he starts the ninth track, “I Want You,” by swearing is probably why that label is there in the regular version of the album. “I Want You” explores once more the jealous and possessive side of Jonas, who declares in the catchy tune “You got the key to my heart yeah / I got the key to your apartment / Would you let me in, or I’m breaking in” Girls, you better not mess with Nick!
Remember the day Nick Jonas announced Demi Lovato would indeed be featured on his new album and previewed their duet “Avalanche” on his live chat? That killed pretty much both of their fandoms, and I , being part of both, died a billion times that day. So, imagine my reaction when I got to hear the full song! Now, I may be biased, but I honestly think this is the best collaboration the two have ever done. Moving away from the industrial R&B that is heavily featured throughout Jonas’ album, “Avalanche” goes back to a slow and steady tempo, which is what Jonas fans are used to coming from the 22-year-old and his long-time friend. The heartbreaking power-ballad showcases the evolution of both Jonas’ and Lovato’s voices perfectly, Jonas’ moving down a register for the purpose of the song, and Lovato’s showing a purity that tend to be forgotten when you hear her belt all of the high notes included in her latest album, DEMI.
The album ends with the another rather slow song that Jonas describes as the most meaningful to him, “Nothing Would Be Better”. And while at first listen you’d think the song is just another a post-breakup ballad, Jonas shared that the song was actually “a really personal song about family and about the last year of [his] life.”
The deluxe version of the album also includes a “Chains” Remix and two more original songs “Santa Barbara” and “Closer” (feat. Mike Posner) which are at the total opposite from one another. “Santa Barbara” has Jonas going back to his falsettos with a slow melody that we’ve never heard from him before while Mike Posner lets go of any inhibition in his verse of “Closer,” though Jonas had tried to keep the rest his album relatively PG.
Overall, while this isn’t the 22-year-old’s first solo project, it’s definitely the one that describes him the best. Jonas comes out of his comfort zone with this new style and opens up as the man hes become and I’ve got to admit it suits him well. Props to you, Nick J!