"Spaceman," Nick Jonas (Island Records)
Make room, Paul McCartney, Snow Patrol and Taylor Swift. Add Nick Jonas to the growing list of artists who have made fabulous albums during the pandemic.
Jonas' 11-track electronic-rich “Spaceman” is an airy and slightly unmoored love letter from a lusty man who is drinking alone, a little crazed and maybe paranoid. “Too drunk and I'm all in my feelings,” he sings in the excellent “2Drunk.” “Should I send that text? Maybe not/But I miss the sex.”
In other words, we are all Nick Jonas.
The pandemic seems to have scrambled the newlywed, who should have been enjoying his honeymoon period with actor Priyanka Chopra. The unrushed Troye Sivan-like “Don’t Give Up On Us,” the opening track, is alarming coming so soon in a love affair.
Not to worry: “Delicious” is so steamy it should come with a explicit warning. (“I’m licking the dishes,” he purrs). “This Is Heaven” is a more PG love song, sounding like something Lionel Richie would record, complete with an old school horn solo.
Things get naughty again on the aptly named “Sexual” — “Tongue tied/Follow your neck down to your thighs.” His lover “puts the sex in sexual.” In a nice nod to his Indian-born love, he's included an electric sitar. His falsetto soars and the bed is “soaked.”
“Deeper Love” — which samples from “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner — might actually remind listeners of an updated version of Steve Winwood “Higher Love.” More traditional Jonas-sounding songs are also on the album, like “If I Fall” and “Nervous.”
Jonas co-wrote every track with producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin and the songwriter and singer Mozella. He was separated from Chopra last summer when she filmed in Germany and explored that loss and discomfort.
Jonas has never been more relatable. He, too, likely was watching “The Last Dance” along with all of us, slipping in a reference on the album to "MJ in the playoffs." His TV is always on. “All my friends are home/So am I,” he sings.
It all comes together on the title track, which is chilly and brilliant as it captures us all in lockdown, like terrestrial astronauts. “Mask off minute I get home/All safe now that I'm alone.” Few songs in the past year have better captured the unease and alienation of this past year.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits