Old Fire’s John Mark Lapham chose the title for his latest album of haunted Americana to reflect the losses he endured while recording it: a relationship’s end, the deaths of his parents, and the pandemic and its hush of isolation. Lonesomeness whips through his work like a keening wind, a beautiful desolation that’s inspired by the West Texas expanse, and by Lapham’s experience growing up gay in Abilene. He finds strength in numbers on Voids, pairing his ambient folk with guest vocalists such as Austin’s Bill Callahan. On “Don’t You Go,” a cover of English songwriter John Martyn’s mournful ballad, Callahan sings with somber wisdom over piano, strings, and moaning synthesizer, his doleful croon conjuring the ghosts of fathers and sons lost to “the mastery, the misery / called the art of war.” Like the other tracks on Voids, it’s a song of emptiness, but it leaves the heart feeling full—and newly open.
This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Don’t You Go.” Subscribe today.