It’s no secret I spent a lot of time in funeral homes, churches and surrounded by those praying for answers during the last two weeks. I saw lost people enter sacred ground hoping for relief and affirmation. I saw people forced to trust there is something else out there, some eternal resting spot waiting on the other side.

The most comfort however, came when people rose to sing age-old hymns in unison.

Considering the sad tales Owen Ashworth sung under his old moniker, I certainly didn’t expect to find some of that same solace in his latest release, but The World Is In A Bad Fix Everywhere was just as moving.

I wasn’t looking for salvation or assurance in these notes, but I certainly found beauty and strength. Ashworth’s reworking of Washington Phillip’s work is gentle; his choice of instrumentation mirrors the odd tunings pulled from the zithers Phillips cobbled together and offers the same surprising hint of playfulness Phillips used to offset his pontifications. Make no mistake, these songs were heavy, but Phillips - and Ashworth now - manage to control that weight.

Phillips work was about a century ahead of its time and even though I don’t think Ashworth wanted to duplicate the spiritual heft of the originals, he pays fitting tribute to a great artist by giving the songs a fresh, new finish. The World Is In A Bad Fix Everywhere is a completely new direction for an artist that was somewhat limited by a name and a collection of songs that he had long outgrown, but one that proves Ashworth’s talent is real.

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