Greg LaFollette On His New Album of Covers: "I Hope These Songs Remind People They Aren't Alone"

Greg LaFollette

Singer and songwriter Greg LaFollette has just released his new album Ghosts & Empties. The new album is an expansive collection of cover songs. Taking on songs by legends like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, and The Killers; he uses live performances and sparse arrangements to highlight the genius of the melodies and lyrics. LaFollette honors his influences with his intentionality and emotional connection; even though he didn't write the songs, he owns them and loves them as if he did. 

To download/stream the album, click HERE.

Q: Greg, it's great to catch up with you again. The last time we interviewed you, you were releasing a hymns album. Now you have a brand new album of pop and rock covers. Tell us what inspired you to do a covers record?

I've done a lot of reinterpreting in my career, whether it's been hymns, psalms, or prayers that were written by others. This felt like an extension of that work; but instead of King David or Thomas Cranmer, it was Tom Petty and The Killers.

Q: What's the significance of the title "Ghosts and Empties"?

It's a lyric from Paul Simon's song Graceland (which I cover on the record). It feels like it encompasses the character of the record, which is vulnerable and stark while remaining hopeful. My favorite line from the song is: "I see losing love is like a window in your heart, everyone can see you're blown apart..." but that was too long for a title. I'm a fan of songs of hope that are wrapped in harsh reality - Graceland is a prime example.

Q: With so many tunes out there, how did you narrow down your song selection?

I admire each one. The main through line is that I've had a deep emotional connection with each song at some point in my life. Songs can be profound companions.

Q: How did you approach these songs so as to make them your own?

Making them my own wasn't a goal - I would call it doing them justice. I knew that I wanted to challenge myself to be more exposed than in other recordings I've done, so many of the songs were recorded live. In those performance moments, I just strove to be present to the songs - the writing did the lion's share of the work.

Q: What were some of the highlights in the making of this record?

Much of the record was done in solitude, but I had a friend come into the studio to record on Learning To Fly. I remember directing her to think of herself as a mother hen brooding, and I feel her maternal care each time I listen to her sing that song.

Q: What's next for you? 

Thanks for asking. I'm planning to release some gospel-tinged songs for churches to use later this year as well as a follow-up to my Holy Week Vol. 1 album in the Spring. I'm very excited to share these songs with the Church!

Q: How do you hope these new songs will encourage or speak to your listeners out there?

Man, I hope that these songs would find a purpose in reminding people that they aren't alone. That's the role each one has played for me.

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