“It’s kind of about getting a little older, moving from hard drugs and hookups to bedroom sex and pharmaceuticals,” says folksinger Willi Carlisle of his latest single “When The Pills Wear Off.” “It’s an amalgam of queer stories that I’ve heard, lived, and seen.” Devastating and gorgeous, Carlisle’s fingerpicked ballad serves as the penultimate tune from his upcoming album Critterland—out January 26th via Signature Sounds—and a flawless example of the songcraft that’s garnered fans like Tyler Childers and BJ Barham.
With the help of fellow songwriter Billy Keane, Carlisle distilled his collected stories. “I had the first lines, melody, and the chorus,” he remembers. “But, they felt too white-hot to sing. Billy added a second eye, another character, another scene. So, it’s not for or about any one person, it’s for everyone, now. After my own prescriptions wear off, I see the world like I used to and feel a dangerous nostalgia. I miss the doomed love and cheap thrills, but also mourn lost pals.”
With that in mind, Carlisle is donating a portion of the proceeds from streams and purchases of “When the Pills Wear Off” to Hope in the Hills, a West Virginia-based charity focused on recovery and wellness in Appalachia. “After losing friends to overdoses, after witnessing the stress that hidden lives and quiet desperation causes people, I decided I wanted to sing about addiction,” says Carlisle. “So, I’m partnering with Hope in the Hills to raise awareness and funding to help those in need. Too much of country music glorifies abuse, murder, and poverty in the name of shock and sales, and I want to fight the stereotypes. Let’s share music about our struggle and triumph! Let’s celebrate love and mourn the dead. ‘When the Pills Wear Off’ is a really sad song, I know, but I hope it brings some joy into the world.”
The funds raised by this single will specifically go to Hope in the Hills’ music therapy program, which conducts regular sessions at recovery houses in East Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia, and additionally supports music therapy through WVU Medicine’s Opioid Unit, Troublesome Creek Stringed Instruments, which employs folks in recovery to build musical instruments in EKY, and a recovery-to-work stagehands program through Recovery Point West Virginia.
“Part of our passion and mission at Hope in the Hills is tapping into the superpower of music to remind folks - that with addiction and substance use disorder - there is no us and them, it is just us,” says Dave Lavender, Board President for Hope in the Hills (Healing Appalachia). “The best of our empathetic poets and troubadours say so without glitter or fanfare, and do something in sharing sorrows that is more than singing. In the single 'When the Pills Wear Off,' Willi Carlisle turns back the crank of time as his character laments love and lives lost to addiction - sharing he says - in hopes for a national reckoning with the suffering at hand.” Carlisle says it best: “I'm saying that you got to shine a light on the worst impulses to see where they go to, so that you're not afraid of them, and so that you can guide yourself into more love with greater certainty.”
Find out more about Hope in the Hills at www.healingappalachia.org
Fans can hear “When the Pills Wear Off” today by following this link and pre-order or pre-save Critterland ahead of its January 26th release right here. Willi Carlisle tour dates can be found below or at willicarlisle.com/shows. General onsale for his upcoming February shows will take place this Friday, November 17 @ 10am local.
More About Critterland: Rooted in the eclectic and collective world of his live shows, Carlisle’s third album, Critterland, takes up where his sophomore album, Peculiar, Missouri, left off, transforming Peculiar’s big tent into a Critterland menagerie and letting loose the weirdos he gathered together. The album is a wild romp through the backwaters of his mind and America, lingering in the odd corners of human nature to visit obscure oddballs, dark secrets, and complicated truths about the beauty and pain of life and love.
Produced by the GRAMMY Award-nominated Darrell Scott and to be released on January 26, 2024, by Signature Sounds, Critterland considers where we come from and where we are going. On the album, he takes on human suffering through stories about forbidden love, loss, generational trauma, addiction, and suicide, believing that by processing the traits and trauma we inherit, he can reach a deeper understanding of what it means to succeed and to exist.