Until now David Bryan has been known as the keyboard player and one of the founding members of the seminal 80s hard rock/ballad band Bon Jovi. If you can't conjure up a face surely you remember his trademark above-the-shoulder spiral-permed blond hair. Lunar Eclipse is Bryan's second solo release, the first being 1994's On A Full Moon. On this outing, Bryan leads the listener through fourteen instrumental journeys played almost exclusively on acoustic pianos (no keyboards here... well, almost). For the most part, these are three or four minute piano compositions that evoke a sense of calm and even a bit of sentimentality. "Second Chance" was written about his own second chance after recovering from a possibly career-ending hand injury and contains many mood shifts from melancholy to exuberant joy, all bathed in the peaceful mode that permeates the rest of the album. Bryan is quite skilled at creating moods with his playing, such as the anticipation of summer found in "April." From the pop keyboard fills of Bon Jovi, one would not expect such skilled mastery of his instrument, but Bryan clearly shows his classical and jazz influences on this musical landscapes. For instance, "It's A Long Road" displays an amazing amount of intuitive melodic phrasing and musical motifs usually found only in classical piano music. While most of the album continues in this same peaceful, melodic, story-in-a-song vein, there are a couple of deviants. "Room Full of Blues" is a rousing, near-ragtime bluesy number while "Netherworld Waltz" incorporates a full band playing a dreamy, nostalgic melody. Bryan actually sings (and quite well) on the final track, "In These Arms", a song written with John Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. While there is an amazing array of diverse styles, everything from waltzes, pop, classical, blues, rock and more, the overarching tone of this album is one of stunning emotion and beauty while maintaining a respective distance. While not destined for heavy rotation in my tiny universe, this CD is perfect for background music while entertaining, reading, or as a soundtrack to your own memories.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, May 2001.