I’m a sucker for any collection of songs billed as a “concept,” and local singer-songwriter Owen Ashworth hooked me onto the latest EP from his Advance Base project even before I heard a note of it. It’s called The World Is in a Bad Fix Everywhere, and the premise behind it is pretty simple—it’s a cover EP of songs by Washington Phillips, an enigmatic Texas preacher who recorded 18 lo-fi gospel songs before passing away in the 1950s. Phillips’s tunes are strange and even a bit archaic-sounding for that era, since he played a stringed instrument akin to the zither; it’s still unclear exactly what kind of descendant of the zither Phillips used, and what kind of tuning he employed, but the resulting songs are beautiful because of whatever unconventional means he used to make them.
Ashworth’s spins on some of those songs are quite good—his easygoing and melancholic piano-based songwriting is a great match for Phillips’s material. The World Is in a Bad Fix Everywhere comes out on vinyl at the end of June, but it’s available digitally now, and Ashworth is celebrating its release with a show at the Burlington on Saturday. To prepare for it take a listen to the EP’s closer, “I Had a Good Father & Mother,” which is today’s 12 O’Clock Track.