Nobody will ever confuse Nick Jonas' Last Year Was Complicated with Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, or Beck's Sea Change.
But like those records, Jonas' third solo effort is a bona fide breakup album, composed largely of songs about his split with actress Olivia Culpo. It's also part of the Dallas-born singer's ongoing attempt to evolve from a teen idol in the Jonas Brothers into a serious, R&B-crooning singer-songwriter and solo artist.
"It's tough to get honest and lay it all out after going through a breakup," Jonas, 23, says by phone before a recent show in Minneapolis. "But I was willing to open up and get vulnerable, which brought me some closure and some peace about the whole situation."
While he tries to keep calm and carry on, there are flashes of rage on the album, like in "Chainsaw," one of 10 songs he co-wrote for the record.
"I'm really proud of that one," he says. "It's about feeling like it's becoming impossible to get over this breakup, needing a way to let go of it, and the only way you see doing that is taking a chainsaw to the sofa."
Sounds like someone should sign up for an anger management course. A few songs later, Jonas finally finds a less violent way to cope via "Bacon," an odd ditty about moving past the pain with the help of fried strips of meat.
"That song came when I was newly out of a relationship, beyond the heartache of it all, and getting to a life that's so good you might as well throw some bacon on it and make it that much that better," he says.
The strangely amusing video to "Bacon" resembles a "Weird Al" Yankovic clip with no punch lines. In conversation, however, Jonas isn't the least bit funny: He's all business, quickly answering one question after the next with the vaguest answer possible — a tell-tale trait of someone who's been on the show-biz treadmill since he was 7.
Yet Jonas claims he's really a lot more lighthearted than people think.
"I'm surprised by people's perception that I'm not funny. I think I'm very funny," he says. "When it comes to my work, I'm quite serious. But I like to mix it up and I've been getting into pranking people lately. Two hours before the VMAs, I called the person who cuts my hair and said 'Listen, I really think it would be a good move for me to dye my hair green.' She almost had a heart attack."
Jonas admits the pressure of growing up in the spotlight has sometimes gotten to him. "But I'm really stressing less than I used to," he says. "With my brothers, there were certain pressures — pressure I put on myself to maintain a certain image. But I'm getting comfortable now with exactly who I am. I'm just being authentic to myself and settling into who I am as a person and an artist and a storyteller."
He's taking his stories on the road this summer on a co-headlining tour with his old pal Demi Lovato. Back in the Jo Bro days, Jonas made his film debut alongside Lovato in the 2008 Disney Channel film Camp Rock, and the two have collaborated several times since then. Last year, the pair and their manager Phil McIntyre co-created their own label, Safehouse Records.
"One of the biggest lessons I've learned in the last 12 years of my career is to keep your friends near and dear to your heart, like Demi," Jonas says. "She's my friend and my business partner, and as performer, she's one of the best. She's got one of the most powerful voices I've heard. She's obviously inspired by soul, and you can hear it in everything she does."
Like the Dallas-raised Lovato, Jonas has strong ties to North Texas. He was born in Dallas, but spent his early childhood in upscale Wyckoff, New Jersey. In 2008, at the height of Jonas mania, the family moved to a 7,300-square-foot mansion on a golf course in Westlake, north of Fort Worth.
Today, Jonas lives in Los Angeles, and his parents have moved from North Texas as well. But he still has relatives in D-FW and he says he's excited to get back to Dallas, visit friends, eat some Woodshed Smokehouse barbecue and go to the Cowboys-Giants game at AT&T Stadium.
"Any time I get a chance to go back there, I love it," he says. "I definitely consider myself a Texas boy. In a lot of ways, Texas is still home."
Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato perform with opening act Mike Posner Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. $29.95-$99.95. ticketmaster.com.