'Nick Jonas' shows smooth transition from sweet to sultry

(Photo Courtesy of Island Records) (Photo Courtesy of Island Records)

Long gone are the days of Nick Jonas's Radio Disney chart-toppers and "quiet little brother" persona.

"Nick Jonas," an eponymous solo album with Island Records, reflects the lifestyle of a man whose transition from sweet, boyish Jonas Brother to rugged, mature 20-something is almost entirely complete. Both old and new fans should be pleasantly surprised by the outcome of his solo project, which veers away from an overproduced mainstream sound and presents listeners with an edgier alternative to other ex-Disney projects.

Many of these former child stars chose to take a more extreme path of transition into musical adulthood (see: Miley Cyrus), but Jonas seems to have intentionally chosen a way that emphasizes creative growth over an outrageous change of image.

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Jonas' background up until this point was, as a whole, far from scandalous. Although his work with the Jonas Brothers is perhaps his most widely known, he also took his talents to Broadway in shows such as "How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" and "Les Misérables." Jonas also tried his hand at a solo project in 2010 with his side project, "Nick Jonas & the Administration".

While this diverse history may have helped Jonas develop his skills and instrumental talents, "Nick Jonas" is far from anything he has done in the past. It's hard to imagine that old pop-rock hits such as "Year 3000" and "S.O.S." were played by the same man who now belts out lyrically mature songs such as "Wilderness" and "Teacher," both of which focus on complicated relationships.

Many of the album's songs reflect a passionate intensity that may shock listeners who expect the quiet, sensitive aura that eclipsed his teen years. The first single, "Jealous," is thematically and rhythmically a fairly good indication of what the rest of the album sounds like. The beats are catchy and strong, but not the type to get annoying after only a few plays. In general, the strength and vaguely electronic alternative nature of the music blends well with Jonas's high, smooth vocal range and an overall R&B; vibe.

"Chains," "Teacher" and "I Want You" offer a glimpse into a passionate and suggestive love story that differs greatly from old Jonas Brothers hits such as "Just Friends" and "Lovebug." Rhythmic bass is combined with alt-rock overtones to create an energizing vibe that's catchy, but not danceable.

However, these songs are balanced out with softer, more emotionally-driven ballads such as "Push," an airy, lovelorn plea, and "Avalanche," which features "Camp Rock" co-star and brother Joe's ex-flame Demi Lovato. "Nothing Would Be Better" also offers a breathy, heartfelt glimpse into Jonas' sensitive side.

"Nick Jonas" is best approached with no expectations. Listeners should anticipate neither the pre-pubescent pop beats of 2007 nor a consistently raunchy display of exaggerated adulthood. It's clear that Jonas is still in the process of solidifying and perfecting his new genre. However, his work is strong and unique and suggests that the remainder of his musical career will be shaped by creative growth and modernization.

Fangirl like it's 2008 with the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @lina_lauren

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