Fame came to James Hand late in life, but boy doesn’t he know how to sing old-fashioned brand of country music. Better than the fresh-faced new hyped acts and otherwise coming out of Nashville that is for sure, he is the real deal who can count among his fans such country music legends as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson (‘you believe him’) and who am I to argue.
Like with his Rounder debut, The Truth Will Set You Free in 2006 Shadow In The Ground is pure undiluted stone country and in keeping with his heroes Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb among others Hand, who wrote all but a timely cover of old classic ‘Mona Lisa’ turns the clock back without any of it sounding anyway contrived. In Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel) and Lloyd Maines as the co-production team the music swings through the honky tonks of old in splendid fashion. Hand, who has the accompaniment of masses of steel guitar, upright bass, lead guitar and fiddle like another fiercely devoted traditionalist, Dale Watson his music and songs are straight down the line, country. If I were to be critical it would be the fact he does on occasions allow one song pick up where the last one left off to give a feel of sameness. Good though the music may be.
To lend a little light and shade, apart from ‘Mona Lisa’ he does include a trucking song via ‘Midnight Run’ and with a boom-chicka-boom beat ‘Leaving For Good’—plus twangy guitar and, the dashing fiddle (Asleep At Wheel ace, Jason Roberts), Dobro (Maines) and bass warmed ‘Men Like Me Can Fly’. Plus, with we have the slower paced ‘The Pain Of Loving You’ that contains some beautiful steel guitar and fine, tempered electric lead to go with his restrained tones.
‘Don’t Depend On Me’ is a tear in your beer affair that alongside the jaunty ‘Floor To Crawl’ —that has Hank Williams written all over it! Coupled with ‘What Little I Got Left’ and honky tonk trail blazing ‘Don’t Want Me Too’ you have fine samples of straight ahead honky tonk music of old set to thrill both his fans and traditionalists in general. Now, James when can we have you back over playing —and, soon!
PS We need your help to relaunch Flyinshoes Review. If you've enjoyed the music and this review, please share it with your face book, myspace, twitter and indeed anyone you think would be interested, you can access all of these and your address book from the share button below left, thanks. Editor
Would like to contribute to FSR and the House Concert Hub? Please help keep the wheels on the hub, this site is run on House Concert Principles and relies on your donation. Thank You for keeping this in mind