You may not know his name, but you'll probably recognize his voice. Since the death of Klaus Nomi, Somerville has reigned as the best white falsetto singer in pop music; his soaring voice propelled Bronski Beat and the Communards to respectable chart positions (especially in Europe) during the 1980s, and his return to musical activity finds him in excellent form. Dare to Love doesn't really break much new ground for Somerville. He's still working the club floor with disco-inflected dance-pop, and his melodic sense is still as strong as ever -- from the airborne melodic lines of "Heartbeat" to the down-and-dirty funk of "Alright," this album is a smorgasbord of pure pop pleasure. Listen carefully to the words, though, and the experience gets a bit darker. Somerville's lyrics have always been unabashedly homoerotic, and while most of the tunes on this disc are given over to sweet, wide-eyed declarations of romantic devotion, there's a rather nasty leather-boy undercurrent to "Alright" that risks turning off listeners of any sexual orientation ("The blood had dried by the morning light"? Eww.) More disturbingly, the title track appears to be a celebration of statutory rape: the protagonist has been imprisoned "because he dared to love" (the implication being "because he dared to love a man"), but the lyrics make it clear that he's in jail more specifically because he dared to love a minor. We're clearly supposed to sympathize with him, but those who find sex between adults and children problematic might have difficulty doing so. Pretty song, though.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson