Willi Carlisle to Donate Proceeds from New Single “When the Pills Wear Off” to Hope in the Hills

Willi Carlisle gave fans a second taste of his upcoming record, Critterland. “When the Pills Wear Off” is a heartbreaking ballad about love, loss, and addiction.

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Carlisle is a songwriter who wears his heart on his sleeve and invites the entire world to take a long, hard look at it. Whether he’s hootin’, hollerin’, and calling a square dance or weaving tear-jerking character-driven tales, the folk singer’s voice expresses the deep emotions that drive his pen. With “When the Pills Wear Off” his voice sounds thick with tears and heavy with sadness.

Hearing the heartache in Carlisle’s voice only deepens the waves of sadness that flow from the second single from his forthcoming project. The gentle fingerpicked arrangement accompanied by an expressive string section adds another layer. In short, many will find it hard to walk away from this song with dry eyes.

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“It’s kind of about getting a little older, moving from hard drugs and hookups to bedroom sex and pharmaceuticals,” Carlisle said in a statement. “It’s an amalgam of queer stories I’ve heard, lived, and seen.”

The singer/songwriter also spoke about writing the song with Billy Keane. “I had the first lines, melody, and the chorus. But, they felt too white-hot to sing. Billy added a second eye, another character, and another scene. So, it’s not for or about any one person. It’s for everyone, now,” he said. “After my own prescriptions wear off, I see the world like I used to and feel a dangerous nostalgia. I miss them doomed love and cheap thrills, but also mourn lost pals.”

“When the Pills Wear Off” isn’t all sad, though. Carlisle will donate proceeds from the single to Hope in the Hills. The West Virginia-based charity focuses on recovery and wellness in Appalachia—a region disproportionately stricken by the opioid epidemic.

“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,” Carlisle said. “I’m partnering with Hope in the Hills to raise awareness and funding to help those in need.”

“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 abuse disorder—there is no us and them. It is just us,” Dave Lavender Board President of Hope in the Hills said in a statement. “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,” he added.

“Too much of country music glorifies abuse, murder, and poverty in the name of shock and sales, and I wasn’t to fight the stereotypes,” Carlisle said. “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.”

Funds raised by the song will go directly to Hope in the Hills’ music therapy program. It conducts regular sessions at recovery houses in East Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia. It also supports music therapy through WVU Medicine’s Opioid Unit and Troublesome Creek Stringed Instruments which employs people in recovery to build musical instruments in Eastern Kentucky. Additionally, the program supports a recovery-to-work initiative that helps those recovering from addiction get jobs as stagehands.

Critterland drops on January 26 via Signature Sounds.

Photo credit: Madison Hurley

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