James Hand Shadow On The Ground

James Hand Shadow On The Ground

The picture tells the story. The album cover shows a face that has lived life, and the determined set of the jaw tells you that James Hand is the real honky-tonk deal, not some manufactured Nashville hunk. At 56, the Texan troubadour is finally getting deserved recognition, and this fine disc will further his cause. It boasts co-production and guitar work by Ray Benson (Asleep At the Wheel) and Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks), liner notes by Kris Kristofferson and such top players as Cindy Cashdollar and Speedy Sparks. Hand holds up his end by writing some classic-sounding originals (standard "Mona Lisa" is the only cover) and delivering them in a convincing hurting voice that has often elicited comparisons to Hank Williams. Other obvious reference points are fellow Texans Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb, while fans of Billy Joe Shaver will find plenty to enjoy. The humour of "The Parakeet" makes for a nice change from such odes to heartbreak as "Don't Want Me Too" and "The Pain Of Loving You." A good hand to play, indeed. (Rounder)