Willi Carlisle Inspects The Bottom Of The Barrel With New Single “Higher Lonesome”

Article Contributed by IVPR | Published on Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Willi Carlisle’s “Higher Lonesome” is the only completely true story from his upcoming album Critterland. While the other nine tracks are certainly based on real people in real places, “Higher Lonesome” is wholly Carlisle living through dark, searching times in the tail end of 2021 and into the new year. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to live, was a disaster, wandering through the country, falling in love with strangers,” remembers the folksinger whose most recent single, “When The Pills Wear Off,” raised money for Appalachian recovery charity, Hope in the Hills.

Carlisle’s first verse sets a wild mood right off the bat: “Turned around in Tidewater or all alone in Pueblo / I been drivin’ with a deathwish down mountains on my phone / Half the places I been might be laced with psilocybin / I been dreamin’ of a country I saw at the rodeo.” Cascading over a descending chord progression, each new line paints a picture both dire and adventurous; a skill few songwriters possess in the tonnage Carlisle does. The scope of “Higher Lonesome” stacks up over its nearly four and a half minutes of storytelling, but the narrator leaves listeners with light on the other side. “See I don’t want to hit rock bottom, just to see how deep it goes / Shine a light on six feet under so I ain’t afraid to go / Prove in fact the end’s as lovely as can be / When higher lonesome kills the bitter parts of me,” sings Carlisle in the song’s final refrain.

“Higher Lonesome” is the latest single from Carlisle’s upcoming, Darrell Scott-produced album, Critterland—out January 26th via Signature Sounds. Fans can stream or purchase “Higher Lonesome” today at this link, check out Carlisle’s previously released Critterland singles, “When The Pills Wear Off” and “Critterland,” at their respective links, and pre-order or pre-save the album right here.

Carlisle returns to the road with his own headlining tour in February followed by a run of shows in June supporting Tyler Childers. Tour dates can be found below or at willicarlisle.com.

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.

Critterland Tracklist:


Dry Country Dust

The Arrangements

The Great Depression

Two-Headed Lamb

Higher Lonesome

I Want No Children


When the Pills Wear Off

The Money Grows on Trees

Catch Willi Carlisle On Tour:

Feb. 1 - Newport, KY - The Southgate House

Feb. 2 - Columbus, OH - Rumba Cafe

Feb. 3 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe

Feb. 4 - Lakewood, OH - Mahall’s

Feb. 7 - Ann Arbor, MI - The Ark

Feb. 8 - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club

Feb. 9 - Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern

Feb. 10 - Kalamazoo - MI - Bell’s Eccentric Café

Feb. 12 - Wisconsin Dells, WI - Showboat Saloon

Feb. 13 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club

Feb. 15 - Des Moines, IA - xBK

Feb. 16 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown

Feb. 17 - Lawrence, KS - The Bottleneck

Feb. 18 - Oklahoma City - OK - Resonant Head

Feb. 22 - 25 - Kansas City, MO - Folk Alliance International

Apr. 6 - Fayetteville, AR - George’s Majestic Lounge

Apr 12. - Asheville, NC - The Grey Eagle

Apr 13. - Nashville, TN - The Basement East

Apr. 14 - Lexington, KY - The Burl

Apr. 26 - Wilkesboro, NC - MerleFest

Apr. 28 - Tallahassee, FL - Word of South Music and Lit. Festival

May 24 - Adams, MA - Adams Theater

June 2 - Virginia Beach, VA - Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater*

June 5 - Tampa, FL - MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre*

June 7 - Alpharetta, GA - Ameris Bank Amphitheatre*

June 8 - Alpharetta, GA - Ameris Bank Amphitheatre*

* Supporting Tyler Childers

For future dates and ticket information, please visit willicarlisle.com.