Album Review

Willi Carlisle - Critterland

Everyone's favourite country-folk lovechild returns with his much-anticipated third album, offering heart-wrenching sorrow and comforting solace in even measure.

Album - Willi Carlisle - Critterland
January 30, 2024 9:38 pm GMT

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Willi Carlisle - Critterland

Label: Signature Sounds Recordings

Producer: Darrell Scott

Release Date: January 26, 2024

Tracklisting:

1. Critterland

2. Dry County Dust

3. The Arrangements

4. The Great Depression

5. Two-Headed Lamb

6. Higher Lonesome

7. I Want No Children

8. Jaybird

9. When the Pills Wear Off

10. The Money Grows on Trees

Everyone's favourite country-folk lovechild returns with his much-anticipated third album, offering heart-wrenching sorrow and comforting solace in even measure.

The art of storytelling in music is alive and well, nestled amongst the lyrical nooks and crannies of Willi Carlise's latest creation. Gleaning inspiration from every far-reaching corner of folk music, Critterland is an intricate collection of tales about the minute and the immense, the ugly and the beautiful – all inextricably linked and equally important.

Something delightfully melancholic lies within each track of the album. At the same time, a sense of hope lingers between heart-breaking lyrics and heart-rending vocals. “It’s no surprise your body never was found, I find your body all over this town”, he sings on ‘Jaybird’, a sardonic but touching tribute to a friend lost to suicide.

For Carlisle, singing is "the literal act of thinking through suffering", something he finds "freeing". There's a quiet defiance to these beautifully crafted songs; something big lies beneath the surface of each one.

The singer’s famously captivating live performances translate into his recordings. Peppered with his signature banjo and harmonica throughout, Critterland is as eclectic as it is articulate. Standouts include the devastating ‘The Arrangements’ – a story of a son reflecting on the age-old complexity of the father-son bond – and the album’s final track, ‘The Money Grows On Trees’. The seven-minute, spoken-word saga feels like a well-worn tale passed down through the generations.

Critterland is a foray into the real and surreal. Carlisle is an all-seeing narrator, suspending the world as he observes both from above and within, almost as if he's been transported from the past and the future.

I think it’s love that we are made of”, Carlisle sings on ‘I Want No Children’, and it’s apparent that this album is made of the same.

9/10

Willi Carlisle's new project, Critterland, is out now via Signature Sounds Recordings.

For more on Willi Carlisle, see below:

Written by Rosie Down
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