Nick Jonas – Last Year Was Complicated
It’s hard to believe that Last Year Was Complicated is Nick Jonas’ third solo album — I feel like I don’t hear much about the guy aside from “Jealous.” I don’t find a lot of originality in this album. It sounds like something from last year’s top 40. Not so complicated, Jonas.
“Champagne Problems” and “Don’t Make Me Choose” sound like they could be the Weeknd, with some slight octave shifting, and “Touch” is a Bruno Mars knock-off. Jonas does do some experimenting, like on “Voodoo” which is groovy and exotic. “Under You” might be my favourite off the record, but maybe that’s because of the Taylor Swift I can hear. “Unhinged” is a solid ballad, but it’s hard to tell with all that synthesizer.
It’s not a bad album. But it’s also nothing we haven’t heard before. – CM
Dierks Bentley – Black
Black is Dierks Bentley’s follow-up to the wildly successful and overall enjoyable Riser. Black is good, though not quite on the same level as its predecessor. However, it is a lot more cohesive on the whole. No track stands out, either in a good or a bad way. It’s a concept album that embodies the rollercoaster of what a relationship is. Overall, the songwriting is solid.
The lead single off the album, “Somewhere on a Beach” is not the best lyrically: “I’m getting sun, I’m getting some, and I ain’t slept in a week.” It’s almost tragically catchy.
The whole album has a feel of emotion, without seeming too personal. “Black” opens the album with a little sexiness, but the duet with Maren Morris, “I’ll Be the Moon” has pristine harmonies and deals with the dreaded love triangle. Meanwhile, “Different for Girls” goes through a heartbreak from the perspectives of both a guy and a girl. – CM
Hannah Georgas – For Evelyn
There’s a moment near the end of “Rideback” — the opener on Hannah Georgas’ new album, For Evelyn — where the soft saxophone line becomes a blaring moment of noise, which sounds great in context but is also incredibly unsettling. After singing “What if the best times are all up? / What if it’s just the ride back now?” it makes sense.
This album is about pushing forward amidst uncertainty and anxiety, and doing your best to find beauty and meaning in it. However, this album is Georgas saying that despite the best intentions, the unknown can still take over sometimes.
This theme is conveyed beautifully over Georgas’ matured synth-pop sound she’s developed since 2008. Standouts include the heartbreaking “Don’t Go” and the self-doubting “Waste.” The emotional impact is as poignant as how Georgas decides to personify it through her music, and this album perfectly takes up the space that otherwise can hang in the unwanted moments. – NR