Universal Dice “Curse” (SINGLE)

You can’t ever accuse Universal Dice of aiming for the lowest common denominator. I believe songwriter Gerry Dantone and his cohorts merge thought provoking themes, adult subject matter, and beguiling musical settings better than many much more well-known contemporaries and are writing and recording music aglow with timeless attributes. Their new single “Curse” from the forthcoming album release Misfit Memoirs is an excellent example of this.

URL: https://universaldice.com/

It’s structured as a dialogue between a parent and a child. “Curse” pulls no lyrical punches and its conversational, yet unflinchingly direct language connects with listeners from the outset. You won’t need to play the song several times to grasp what’s going on. Nevertheless, the musical components of the track encourage multiple passes. It’s delivered in a straightforward fashion yet the near-orchestral construction of the song, incremental in its effects rather than showing all its cards at once, begs for listeners to revisit it in order to fully appreciate its merits.

The track opens with acoustic guitar and Dantone’s lightly double-tracked vocals. Lead guitarist Bob Barcus punctuates the opening with scattered flourishes that heighten the drama and the table is set for a gradual accumulation of instrumental touches. The song’s percussion sets a relaxed mid-tempo pace. Barcus continues exerting considerable influence over the song’s trajectory with additional lead guitar lines, albeit brief, positioned at key points in the song’s arrangement.

“Curse” certainly benefits from its strong vocal melody. There are several stretches of harmony vocals heard during the track, as well, and they complement the persistent jangle at the song’s heart. There’s an inherent melancholy defining this song, never mired in despair, but nonetheless strongly reflected in the song’s insistent questioning during the second half of its “dialogue”. It’s a deceptively simple tune in its instrumentation and length but still packs a sly emotional wallop that gathers over time rather than attempting to bulldoze listeners.

Dantone’s lead vocal exercises tremendous patience. He never rushes his performance and allows the music ample room to breathe rather than trying to fill every possible space with his singing. The gentle lilt of his voice helps sweeten an otherwise woeful “message” underlying the performance. You’re not going to hear any “holes” in this song – “Curse” provides listeners with a solid listening experience from its tentative opening through its conclusive finish. It covers all the bases.

We should expect no less from Dantone and company. The members of Universal Dice have worked together for some time now and their familiarity bears tasty fruit with the new single “Curse”. This is an artistic unit, without question, but they are likewise capable of giving listeners a satisfying entertainment experience without ever pandering for the audience’s attention.

It definitely will breed curiosity about the pending album release of Misfit Memoirs. It’s what a lead single is supposed to do; whet our appetites for the main course. Based on this single alone, the forthcoming Universal Dice offering promises to be their best effort yet and a sturdy ever-timely reminder that classic songwriting fundamentals are never out of style.

Mark Druery