Review: James Hand "Shadow On The Ground"

If you're tired of over-produced country music that sounds like it should be on the pop charts instead of the country charts, then you'll love Waco, Texas native James Hand's stellar new album "Shadow On The Ground." James Hand is an authentic country musician in the tradition of Hank Williams, and his album will remind you why you became a fan of country music in the first place.

James "Slim" Hand is a Texan through and through, and his heartachingly real depiction of country life will surprise and delight you. Hand's debut national release in 2006 at age 53 ("The Truth Will Set You Free" on Rounder Records) was a landmark in Texas music, and it gave hope to every Lone Star musician waiting for their moment to arrive. Before taking the national stage, James Hand began singing in honky tonks at age 12, but he had to find work as a truck driver, rodeo rider and horse trainer to earn additional money.

All the hard work paid off with "Shadow On The Ground." James Hand has never sounded better, and the album starts off strong with the traditional country track "Don't Want Me Too." This cut will make you want to break out in a great big country smile, and it's followed by the album's biggest surprise, the classic "Mona Lisa."

Co-produced by Asleep At The Wheel's Ray Benson and Texas music legend Lloyd Maines, the production on "Shadow On The Ground" is flawless. The best song on the album is "Midnight Run," which showcases James Hand's pure, authentic country voice. It's followed by the terrific "Leaving For Good" which should be a country chart hit.

James Hand doesn't just sing - he creates Americana musical art with passion and intensity. After listening just once to "Shadow On The Ground," you'll instantly know that this album will never leave your truck's CD player, and you won't be able to resist telling all your friends about it. In these days of iPhones, social media and fast food on every corner,  James Hand's music will make you want to take the day off and enjoy a night with your wife under the stars. You can't offer any higher praise for an album than that.