James Hand
  • Don't Want Me Too
  • Mona Lisa
  • Just A Heart
  • The Parakeet
  • Floor To Crawl
  • What Little I Got Left
  • The Pain of Loving You
  • Ain't A Goin'
  • Midnight Run
  • Leavin' For Good
  • Don't Depend on Me
  • Men Like Me Can Fly
  • Don't Want Me Too
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (02:36) [5.96 MB]
  • Mona Lisa
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (02:54) [6.62 MB]
  • Just A Heart
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (03:27) [7.9 MB]
  • The Parakeet
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (02:22) [5.42 MB]
  • Floor To Crawl
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (02:49) [6.45 MB]
  • What Little I Got Left
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (02:28) [5.65 MB]
  • The Pain of Loving You
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (03:06) [7.08 MB]
  • Ain't A Goin'
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (02:33) [5.82 MB]
  • Midnight Run
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (03:22) [7.69 MB]
  • Leavin' For Good
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (03:01) [6.91 MB]
  • Don't Depend on Me
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (03:26) [7.86 MB]
  • Men Like Me Can Fly
    Genre: Folk
    MP3 (02:09) [4.94 MB]
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Biography
James Hand
Shadow on the Ground
Street Date: September 8, 2009

1. Don’t Want Me Too 2:33
2. Mona Lisa 2:51
3. Just a Heart 3:24
4. The Parakeet 2:19
5. Floor to Crawl 2:50
6. What Little I Got Left 2:25
7. The Pain of Loving You 3:02
8. Ain’t A Goin’ 2:31
9. Midnight Run 3:20
10. Leavin’ For Good 2:58
11. Don’t Depend on Me 3:23
12. Men Like Me Can Fly 2:08

1. Don’t Want Me Too
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - John McGlothlin
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian
Steel Guitar - Eddie Rivers
Harmony - Wes Hightower

2. Mona Lisa
(Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, Sony/ATV Harmony, ASCAP)
Drums - Dave Sanger
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Ray Benson, Will Indian
Steel Guitar - Eddie Rivers

3. Just A Heart
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - John McGlothlin
Bass - Speedy Sparks
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian
Steel Guitar - Cindy Cashdollar

4. The Parakeet
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - Dave Sanger
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian
Steel Guitar - Eddie Rivers

5. Floor to Crawl
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - John McGlothlin
Bass - Speedy Sparks
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian
Steel Guitar - Cindy Cashdollar

6. What Little I Got Left
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - Dave Sanger
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian, Lloyd Maines
Pedal Steel Guitar - Lloyd Maines

7. The Pain of Loving You
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - John McGlothlin
Bass - Speedy Sparks
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian
Steel Guitar - Cindy Cashdollar

8 Ain’t A Goin’
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - John McGlothlin
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Sam Seifert
Steel Guitar - Cindy Cashdollar
Harmony - Sam Seifert

9. Midnight Run
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - John McGlothlin
Bass - Speedy Sparks
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian
Pedal Steel Guitar - Lloyd Maines

10. Leavin’ For Good
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - Dave Sanger
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Lloyd Maines, Ray Benson
Pedal Steel Guitar - Lloyd Maines

11. Don’t Depend on Me
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI)
Drums - Dave Sanger
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Electric Guitar - Will Indian
Pedal Steel Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Fiddle - Jason Roberts

12. Men Like Me Can Fly
(James Hand, Slim Hand Music-Happy Valley Music, BMI / Brandon Arriola)
Drums - Dave Sanger
Bass - Kevin Smith
Acoustic Guitar - Lloyd Maines
Dobro - Lloyd Maines
Fiddle - Jason Roberts

Produced by Lloyd Maines and Ray Benson
Associate Producer: Peter Schwarz
Engineered by Adam Odor and Sam Seifert
Assistant Engineers Will Armstrong
Recorded and Mixed at Bismeaux Studios Austin, TX
Mixed by Sam Seifert
Bismeaux Studio would like to thank AMD, Steinberg/Yamaha, Aviom and Keeley Electronics

Photographs by Richard E. Chapla, Jr. and Bob Ritchie

All songs with the exception of “Mona Lisa” written by James Hand

Giving thanks, my friends, can be full of doubt, between those we commend and those we leave out, so perhaps the best that I can do, is just thank God for ALL of you. I am truly blessed by all who have contributed to this album. You are forever in my thoughts and prayers, and I am grateful everyday for each and every one of you.

Always your pal,
James Hand

Soul music can't be imitated. The honesty, intensity, the beauty of it is instantly recognizable — easy to love and as real as rain. And as individual as snowflakes. I loved Hank Williams from the first time I heard him sing “Love Sick Blues” on the Grand Ole Opry. For the same reason I love Lefty Frizell and Merle Haggard, George Jones. (I love Willie, too, but he's in a separate category all by himself). You believe them. James Hand's singing makes me feel the same way. You believe him. From the killer opener, “Don’t Want Me Too” through the brilliant “The Parakeet” to the soaring “Men Like Me Can Fly,” I believe him. If he can sing like Hank Williams, God bless him. “Ain’t a Goin’” is ironic but honest. Even men like him can fly.

— Kris Kristofferson

Willie Nelson says it best: James “Slim” Hand is the real deal. That observation is almost an understatement in this era of prepackaged “authenticity” and over-the-counter neo-traditionalism as well as mainstream country music that’s more suburban and pop than nourished by the genre’s original lifeblood. Hand is the genuine article, make no mistake about it: a C&W singer and songwriter who’s as country as a stick and as Western as the Central Texas prairie he calls home.

You can hear it in his voice in the way it swoops and trills as if carried upon the winds of fate through a rainstorm of teardrops. And in its timbre, with its howls and moans of someone who feels just a bit haunted — a term that Hand has mentioned more than a few times to describe his existence over the last 57 years he has lived.

You can also hear it in his songs. Their stories and themes are frequently steeped in the pain of a man who has known heartbreak and loss as well as the whiskey shots with a beer chaser used to try to wash away those feelings, if only for a Saturday night. Yet for all the sadness he evinces, joy and faith in something better are also to be found within what he writes and sings. There’s a plainspoken honesty and eloquence as found in folks who live their lives close to the basics of existence. And also the wit and wordplay that comes from the craft of storytelling on the porch, upon the barstool or sitting around the
proverbial cracker barrel. Ultimately, as Hand observes, “Life writes the words.”

When Hand talks about how the songs come to him, it’s obvious that it’s not as much a process of composition as it is the mysterious magic of channeling from some elemental place within the human soul and maybe even beyond this world as well. Like the horses that he has broken, trained and worked with since his youth, James Hand has that extrasensory ability to deeply sense and feel all that is around him. And also to connect with what is entrenched within his heart and soul and make such emotions not just palpable to others but actually evoke in listeners what he feels so deeply. He has that artistic gift of an
innate God-given creativity that simply flows, as well as the good sense to not think too much about what he is writing and simply get out of its way and let it come forth, unfiltered and pure.

The origins and ambience of Hand’s music can be understood a bit better by a glimpse at where he hails from and still calls home: the tiny town of Tokio, Texas nearby the larger yet still small town of West, just a short ways up the Interstate from Waco. It’s a realm where such basic pursuits as agriculture and mechanics are still at the core of daily working life, and the weekend relief from the grind provided by a night at a honky-tonk or dancehall is like a glimpse of paradise, albeit one where the temptations that lead to downfall and damnation always lurk in the shadows. To wit, Hand has not just done day job time as a horse trainer but also as a truck driver. And listening to his music, you can all but see the crackling neon beer signs on the barroom walls and feel the sawdust and broken peanut shells beneath your feet.

Just up the road a piece from West is Abbot, where Nelson was reared and began his career in the same sort of small juke joints where Hand plied his trade for a good four decades until he ascended to wider recognition with the release of The Truth Will Set You Free in 2006. A little further north is Corsicana, the hometown of Lefty Frizzell and Billy Joe Shaver. Head south from West to Waco and you’re where Hank Thompson and Cindy Walker hail from. It’s as if something in the soil or the water of the area (maybe both) seems to breed the finest country songwriters.

People have often compared Hand to Hank Williams, which to some degree may be apt, not just in the similarly haunted heartbreak of their and songs and singing, but also Slim’s physiognomy, stance on at the mike onstage and his chiseled visage. Yet it’s also at the same time reductive. Hand’s music is just as informed by Frizzell as well as Ernest Tubb, the godfather of Texas honky-tonk music. Country originators like Jimmie Rodgers and Vernon Dalhart also helped form James’s aesthetic, though to use such 10-cent words with Hand also strays from the salient point of who he is — someone who musically just
does what feels right and comes naturally.

The most accurate way to describe the music of James Hand is to simply say that it is grounded in the country that is closest to the genre’s origins and never strays too far afield. It’s country music that ain’t never been broke and sure don’t need no fixin’ (as much as the meddlers along the ironically-named Music Row try time and again to do such with the style). To Slim Hand, marketing means going to the store to get some groceries, and image is what you see when you look in the mirror. Simply put, what he sings, plays and writes is what and who he is. And even if he wasn’t recording his music for the world beyond where he resides, he would still be singing it for anyone who might listen.

Since signing with Rounder Records, Hand has found the ideal producers in Ray Benson (who has kept Western swing humming for nearly 40 years leading Asleep at the Wheel) and Lloyd Maines (who in addition to his time playing with Joe Ely and others and production work with the likes of The Dixie Chicks, Terry Allen, The Flatlanders and more hails from his family’s long-running Lubbock-based group The Maines Brothers Band, who have been entertaining just folks in West Texas since the early 1950s). With the support of his production team, Hand takes up on Shadow on the Ground where The Truth Will Set You Free left off to expand, deepen and broaden his music.

Honky-tonk heartache and heartbreak remain at the core of what he writesand sings on “Don’t Want Me Too” “Just A Heart” and “The Pain of Loving You” — classic C&W weepers in the time honored tearstained tradition. The way living and loving gives a man the measure of himself are heard on “Don’t Depend on Me,” “What Little I Got Left,” and “Just A Heart.” Hand reveals a man who’s unafraid to fall into the well of his darkest feelings on “Floor to Crawl,” yet he alsoshows his strength of will on “Ain’t A Goin’.” And in the final measure, he knows there’s redemption to someday be found on the spry bluegrass-flavored slice of old-time gospel faith on “Men Like Me Can Fly.”

On “Midnight Run,” he fuses the spirit of the country long-haul truck-driving song with the pain of fleeing from love that’s been lost. Plus who but James Hand could write a swinging upbeat dancer about a pet bird like “The Parakeet?” And on “Mona Lisa,” made famous by Nat “King” Cole, he reminds of when country music was part and parcel of popular music — and didn’t have to strive to “go pop” — by taking what was a graceful and moving classic ballad and remaking it into a zesty yet still evocative dance floor shuffle.

Shadow on the Ground is the sound of a singer and songwriter who remains comfortable standing in the well-worn boots and tattered jeans of country’s essential traditions, whatever else may be going on in music today be damned. “I never change styles because I know what fits me,” he sings on one song, while on another he declares, “When you sing it from the heart you
know every part, and that’s the way it’s got to be.” In short, James Hand is all about integrity and being true to who you are. And that is at the core of what gives this album its profound lyrical, music and emotional power.

Hand once told this writer that there are two things you’ll never fake, and that’s childbirth and goosebumps. For anyone who genuflects before the true cross of country music, hearing James Hand sing for the first time raises those bumps on the skin of your arms and sends shivers along your spine. It’s that “Eureka!” feeling of having discovered something authentic and elemental, and in James’s case, utterly bereft of artifice. Hand and his music are as real as both the day and the night
can be long, and what he creates and plays is country as it was at its finest, remains at its best and truest, and always should be.

— Rob Patterson
Austin, Texas
March 2009

This Enhanced CD includes a video component, an excerpt from "The James Hand Story," which can be played on most computers using Quicktime® or Windows Media Viewer® software. To play the video, place the disc in your computer drive and click on the appropriate icon.

Helping Hand: The James Hand Story

Producers: Todd McMullen
Rich Chapla
Jason Patric
Director: Todd McMullen
Associate Brian Watkins
Producer:

Todd McMullen
DOP
Austin

www.toddmcmullen.com
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  • Profile Last Updated:
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