Dare to Love
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Dare To Love is the English-language debut for Christian artist Ileana Garces. It's also the third release this year from One Voice, part of their mass market push to capitalize on the popularity of Latin music in America and to reach a broader audience. This 21 year old is no stranger to the music business or to her Latin roots. Her parents were Cuban refugees who became Christians while living in Guatemala, and that eventually led to the Garces family developing the One Voice record label in Miami. Ileana grew up surrounded by Christian music, beginning her singing career at an early age in her father's church and eventually lending background vocals to several One Voice albums. One might say Dare To Love was an inevitable album, since it's Ileana's family's business—her mother co-wrote all eleven songs (and was actually One Voice's first artist back in 1984).
In my reviews of other recent One Voice releases (Freddie Colloca and Alvaro López) I pointed out that both artists displayed a lot of talent on albums that started well, then succumbed to boring inspirational production. The same is true of Ileana's Dare To Love, though the highlights are a little more spread out on her album. If you like R&B dance-flavored pop, you'll enjoy many of the tracks on this album, such as "No More Loneliness," on which Ileana makes a valiant effort to sound like Jennifer Lopez or Britney Spears. Unfortunately, the song doesn't quite reach the same quality of those two artists, nor does "Disposable," which makes a strong plea for holding on to love, faith, and our convictions in a society that casually throws such things away. Much more exciting is "I Think Of You," a love song from a Christian perspective featuring a funky gospel sound that has to involve label-mate Alvaro López's band.
Problem is, most of the songs on Dare To Love begin to sound the same after a while, and they never quite deliver the R&B/Latin dance pop as promised. The music mostly centers around a dance-pop-influenced lite fusion jazz sound with inspirational pop sensibilities. Sure, some of it's kinda funky and fun, and it's always upbeat. But for every modern dance pop flourish that occasionally shines through, most of it comes across as ten years behind the times. The electric pianos, DX7 synthesizer bells, and other keyboard effects detract from the cool dance-pop sound Ileana's going for.
I have the utmost respect for Alvaro López as a musician and artist, and the lite fusion jazz production even works for some of the songs on his own recent project. But in the case of Freddie Colloca and Ileana Garces, their music just doesn't stand up against the likes of Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera. This is frustrating, since everyone involved is very talented and shows great promise. The press material I received with the project featured a quote that claims this is the best collection of dance music since Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation. Though some will certainly enjoy the Latin-influenced R&B dance pop, Dare To Love is no Rhythm Nation—and even so, the musicians need to set their sights on the music of today and tomorrow rather than the production values of yesterday.