» This Story:Read +| Comments
Quick Spin

'Shadow on the Ground' by James Hand

  Enlarge Photo    
Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SHADOW ON THE GROUND

James Hand

This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story

James Hand has long been Texas's best-kept secret. The 57-year-old didn't release his national debut until 2006, though he's been performing for more than 40 years (in between stints as a truck driver and horse trainer). He's returned with his second album for roots label Rounder Records. Equal parts wry humor, frank honesty and gut-wrenching heartbreak, "Shadow on the Ground" is a reminder of how good country music can be, especially when it's sung by a man who "always drinks, seldom thinks and never gives a damn."

Here he covers a vast amount of traditional ground, from the trucker ballad "Midnight Run" to the joyous gospel tune "Men Like Me Can Fly." The album isn't all highways, heartaches and hangovers, though: Hand is probably the only guy who can get away with singing a honky-tonk barnburner -- about a pet bird and the strangely codependent relationship the two share -- with a combination of absurdity and pathos reminiscent of Roger Miller. All songs on "Shadow" are written by Hand except for the pop standard "Mona Lisa," which is transformed into a West Texas dancehall shuffle. Joint producers Ray Benson (frontman of western swing outfit Asleep at the Wheel, who also lends his guitar to "Mona Lisa") and the legendary producer-guitarist Lloyd Maines keep the album's sound firmly within the musical realm of fellow Texans Lefty Frizzell and Hank Thompson. If Hand had been born a few decades earlier, he'd have been right at home sharing a stage with those greats.

-- Juli Thanki

DOWNLOAD THESE: "Don't Depend on Me," "Men Like Me Can Fly," "The Parakeet"



» This Story:Read +| Comments
© 2009 The Washington Post Company