How easy it would have been for Jonas Brothers simply to run in place. In the wake of their chart-topping 2008 multi-platinum CD, “A Little Bit Longer,” and sold-out world tour, Nick, Joe and Kevin needed only to deliver a little bit more of the same. Continued global domination would have been assured. But status quo never has been the Jonas Brothers' style. Instead, moving forward at even greater velocity, the band is back with “Lines, Vines & Trying Times,” their most musically ambitious album to date.
What's up with the title? As Nick explained, “Lines are something that people feed you, vines are things that get in the way, and trying times - well, that's obvious.” Hard to see the vines these days when it comes to Jonas Brothers. There's a reason why artists like Stevie Wonder and Brad Paisley lined up to work with the band in recent months. These legends grasped the brothers’ explosive talent as performers and songwriters. That talent erupts as never before on “Lines, Vines & Trying Times.” With producer John Fields at the helm, the brothers focused primarily on their songwriting. Though celebrated for their innate pop rock instincts, this time they embraced all kinds of musical colors, exploring R&B, hip-hop, even country, in their quest for songwriting perfection.
As usual, the band wrote most of the songs together, though some tunes -- notably “World War III” and “Black Keys” -- Nick composed himself. Excelling as they do in power pop, the CD will certainly thrill longtime fans. But things are different now. For example, the sly rocker “World War III” features a blazing horn arrangement performed by the Earth Wind & Fire horn section. The horns similarly fire away on songs like “Hey Baby” (which also features some funky guitar parts by Johnny Lang) and “Much Better,” both of which the band wrote as deliberate shout-outs to old school influences like Neil Diamond and the Bee Gees.
As their pop music heroes recognize the Jonas Brothers, the trio likewise tips their hat to these same influences. Songs like the debut single “Paranoid” (co-written with Cathy Dennis and producer John Fields), the elegant ballad “Turn Right,” and “Don't Speak” reveal a sturdy new sophistication in the band's approach. Of the latter, Joe says, “It deals with the biggest mistake we all make, which is dwelling on the past instead of making strides to the future.”
The harmony-rich power ballad “Fly With Me,” which is featured in the smash hit film “Night At the Museum 2,” was co-written with the band's long-time bassist Greg Garbowsky. The same is true for “Poison Ivy,” a clever rocker Rolling Stone magazine called “a Weezer-ish tune about a toxic girl that you can't resist.” Meanwhile “Black Keys,” is a melancholy yet beautiful ballad Nick actually composed on the black keys of the piano.
Odds are fans won't expect a song like “What Did I Do To Your Heart,” a country rocker with a killer backbeat and fiddle from the great Stewart Duncan. Most surprising of all, “Don't Charge Me For The Crime,” a hip-hop-flavored track featuring rapper Common. A tale from the underbelly of society, the song is an inner monologue about crime and punishment, and the internal struggle to resist. It's unlike anything Jonas Brothers have ever done. Really. “The brothers are great songwriters,” says their A&R executive, Jon Lind. “That is a winning factor.”
There's nothing common about the three brothers from Wycoff, N.J. Their singularly fast rise --including a Grammy nomination, sold-out world tours, their own TV show and two best-selling albums -- has made the world stand up and pay attention to Jonas Brothers.
As a band, they trace their origins to impromptu concerts in the family basement. Encouraged by their always-supportive parents, they started getting commercial gigs, with Nick landing roles in Broadway musicals like “Les Miserables” and “Beauty and the Beast.” In 2005, the trio finally signed their first label deal, but it wasn't20until the following year when they signed with Hollywood Records that the hard work began to pay off.
With the August 2007 release of their Hollywood debut, nothing more stood in their way. Their premiere single, “S.O.S.,” quickly hit #1 on iTunes, while the CD shot to #5. In some cities on their “Look Me In The Eyes” headline tour, concerts sold out in minutes. The brothers star in the Disney Channel original movie, “Camp Rock,” as well as their own Disney Channel comedy series, titled “JONAS.” They worked closely with Demi Lovato on her CD, contributing seven songs and helping propel the album to sales topping 400,000. The release of “A Little Bit Longer” in 2008 changed the game. It hit the very top of the charts, while the “Burning Up” tour was among the year’s highest grossing. Their universally-lauded “Jonas Brothers; 3-D Concert Experience” proved a box office hit. Jonas Brothers received their first Grammy nomination earlier this year for Best New Artist, and have won multiple awards from around the world, including an American Music Award, as well as multiple Kids' Choice and Teen Choice awards. Worldwide, Jonas Brothers have sold a combined 8.1 million albums, and have garnered a total of 36 gold and platinum album certifications. Following the release of the new album, Jonas Brothers embark on the U.S. segment of their “Jonas Brothers World Tour 2009” with featured guests Jordin Sparks and Honor Society.
Judging by their resume alone, Jonas Brothers stand today at the pinnacle of success. But Nick, Joe and Kevin would much rather be judged by the quality of their music and whether they successfully left a permanent stamp on contemporary pop. Of the song “Turn Right” Joe Jonas talked about “taking a chance, doing what is not necessarily comfortable and discovering solace in the unknown.” He could just as easily have been speaking of the band's mission as artists. With “Lines, Vines and Trying Times,” Jonas Brothers not only discovered a new kind of musical solace, they have begun to freely give it away.