Thursday, August 26, 2010

James Hand: Shadow On The Ground (92%) {2009}

James Hand is a throwback to everything good about country music; everything that we seem to have become disconnected with in this modern day of pop-country crossover stars, and the all too false passion and emotion that they bring with them to country radio. James, in his late 50's, is only now starting to receive recognition for his music, even though he's been playing and singing in Texas most of his natural life. James Hand is a slightly more modern, slightly more creative Hank Williams Sr.

Most recently, (2009) Hand has released his second album, “Shadow On The Ground”. This album is simply incredible. Shadow On The Ground starts out with a song called 'You don't Want Me Too', a song about a simple idea; a man still in love with a woman who doesn't want him anymore. Maybe that sounds a little bit cliche, but this guy can pull it off. The reason he can pull it off is because for James Hand, it's all real. He doesn't try to sing about anything he hasn't experienced first hand. He's also got an amazing knack for taking a song full of sad lyrics and making it upbeat and fun.

The second track of the album is Hand's rendition of 'Mona Lisa', originally made popular by Nat King Cole in 1950. It's also been covered by bands and artists too numerous to count, including Elvis Presley, Me First and the Gimme Gimme's, and Willie Nelson. Hand's interpretation is fairly unique, turning Nat King Cole's version, (which sounds much like any other 50's standard music) into a swinging, upbeat cover with a bit of a salsa beat. It has to be heard.
Even his slow songs, like 'Just A Heart' and 'Don't Depend On Me', flow with melody. They keep you tuned into the music and the lyrics, waiting to hear what happens next. You can tell this is a man who has a story to tell, his haggard voice wavering and just a little gravelly.

Other songs like 'The Parakeet' and 'What Little I Got Left' just fly through, leaving you wishing they weren't over quite so quickly. 'Floor to Crawl' takes us back to the time of the alcohol soaked country singer, visions of a dusty bar with sawdust on the floor and a set of swinging double doors.

Every song on this album is good. Every song is meaningful, real, and country. If you've ever enjoyed the roots of country music, Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, then you'd do best to check out this album.

Click here to listen to some short sample clips from this album.

For more info on James Hand, check out his official website at


1. Don't Want Me Too
2. Mona Lisa
3. Just A Heart
4. The Parakeet
5. Floor To Crawl
6. What Little I Got Left
7. The Pain Of Loving You
8. Ain't A Goin'
9. Midnight Run
10. Leavin' For Good
11. Don't Depend On Me
12. Men Like Me Can Fly

release date: 2009 

New Rating: 83/90 (92%)

1: Lyrics - 9/10
2: Significance - 10/10
3: Music - 9/10
4: Freshness - 8/10
5: Production Quality - 10/10
6: Composition - 10/10
7: Dynamic Range - 7/10
8: Humanity - 10/10
9: Cohesiveness - 10/10

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