Scottish singer/songwriter Midge Ure boasts a rich and varied history with bands such as Visage and Thin Lizzy. Ure also cofounded Band Aid with Bob Geldof in 1984 and co-wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” with him, raising awareness and funding for Ethiopia’s famine-ravaged population. But the true zenith of his career came as frontman of underrated 80s synth pop darlings, Ultravox, who birthed such vocally soaring classics as “Reap the Wild Wind,” “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” and the breathtaking “Vienna.” With multiple solo albums under his belt, Ure returns with his first new release in over a decade, Fragile.
Fusing a dark, contemplative style and sweeping progressive melodies peppered with an 80s electronica sound, Ure serves up a ten-track collection mixed, produced and written or co-written by him. For the most part, the tone is so subdued with minimal guitar work and the vocals are so far down in the mix that it’s challenging but not entirely implausible to appreciate the sound. The opener, “I Survived,” is a strong, clearly formed message song with beautiful keys and inspiring vocals from Ure, a recovering alcoholic. “Dark, Dark Night,” co-written with Moby who also provides keys and programming on this one, is extremely reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “Waiting For the Night,” while the title cut, “Fragile,” smacks so strongly of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” that the lyrics are interchangeable. For my money, the gem here is the instrumental prog nugget, “Wire and Wood,” one of two non-vocal pieces on the record.
While this may not represent the most commercially appealing material, it certainly showcases Ure’s capable versatility to reinvent his sound and experiment with a wide variety of styles.