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Album review: Nick Jonas and the Administration, "Who I Am"

By Allison Stewart

Seventeen-year-old Nick Jonas is presently on work furlough from the Jonas Brothers, the boy band whose reign of adorable terror has been briefly halted by weddings and solo releases.

"Who I Am" isn't technically Nick Jonas's solo debut (there was an obscure pre-JoBro release, 2004's Christian pop disc "Nicholas Jonas"), but it's his first with the Administration, a collection of wizened studio hands whose name is a nod to Elvis Costello's Attractions.

(17 going on 47, after the jump.)

This should tell you something about where Jonas's musical affections lie: "Who I Am" is heavily indebted to such acts as Costello, Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder, who did their best work long before he was born.

Therein lies the awkwardness: Jonas is a boy among men, singing dated adult love songs with the hiccupy intonations of a JoBro. "Who I Am" is a 2010 soul-pop album that could have been made in 1980, and its combination of pubescent singer and lite-FM nostalgia rock, while entirely decent, never quite rings true.

Jonas is an endearing, younger-than-his-years frontman who tries to make a group of generically puppyish love songs sound convincing, and he mostly succeeds. But when he works the JoBro equivalent of blue, things start to get interesting fast. He sounds as surprised as anybody to find himself singing the full-tilt '80s boogie-"Superstition" redo "State of Emergency." Its lyrics might not seem like much ("She's seductive / She does it well / She'll charge you by the hour / For a straight trip down to hell"), but for an artist of such surpassing mildness, it might as well be "Darling Nikki, the Early Years."

Recommended tracks: "Rose Garden," "Who I Am"

By David Malitz  |  February 2, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags: Nick Jonas  
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