Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

Mark Wahlberg

Nick Jonas, funk-soul brother

Nick Jonas, funk-soul brother

It was close to midnight, and Nick Jonas was between cocktails. The 22-year-old's team had transformed a tiny, chic West Hollywood, Calif., art gallery into a rehearsal space. He had just run through his fifth set of the day, and appeared to be growing more comfortable as the hours — and the drinks — went by.

Jonas was on this recent night previewing tracks from his self-titled debut album in front of a small audience. In the crowd were tastemakers and industry types, all wondering what the former Jonas Brother planned for a resurrection.

No doubt, the preening teen from Disney's last golden age of young camp rockers was gone. For his solo album, Jonas has stepped into...