James Hand has become a legendary figure in Texas Country Music. Working his way in and out of Texas Honky Tonks, he delivers his music to believers and systematically converts nonbelievers. This man is Country to the bone. Every step he takes carries heartache, hardcore livin’ and a bit of the mystery similar to that which clouds around the legacy of Hank Williams. No one is more Country than James Hand. And when he says he’s a “mighty lonesome man,” you believe him. In his voice you can hear shades of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizell, Ray Price and Ernest Tubb all woven together to create one of the most incredibly gifted voices making Country music in this day and age.
Hand’s previous releases on Rounder Records include Truth Will Set You Free and Shadow On The Ground and both are excellent works. Mighty Lonesome Man is Hand’s debut on Austin’s Hillgrass Bluebilly Records and isn’t like any other album you will hear produced today. It sounds and feels as if it is coming right out of a half century ago. Incredible steel work (Cindy Cashdollar), sparse arrangements and Hand’s trembling voice is ridden with pain, guilt, love and deep loneliness with an edge of defiance and survival.
This album is a true treasure. As the title track leads off, Hand’s voice tremors and chills all the way through your cells. Song after song, Hand delivers. Earl Poole Ball’s (Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons) piano leads off “Years I’ve Been Loving You” in a beautifully executed heartbreaker. Hand’s voice is worn, weathered and potent as all hell. He is consistent but never boring. Take “Lesson In Depression,” which has rather a cheery, catchy melody that contrasts with the lyric content. It works. And many songs, like “Please Me When I Can” could have easily been Hank Williams tunes. There’s a strong variety in the musical arrangements, from two-steppers and ballads to swing. One of my favorite tracks on this album is “The Drought.” The hopefulness in this track is surprising amongst the other tales of heartache and despair. It’s a beautiful song.
You’ll also love Hand’s execution of the Cash favorite “Get Rhythm.”
This is an outstanding collection of truly great Country music and a great feather in the cap of grassroots label, Hillgrass Bluebilly Records.
Mighty Lonesome Man drops Oct.16th.
MIGHTY LONESOME MAN Track List:
- Mighty Lonesome Man
- Years I’ve Been Loving You
- Lesson In Depression
- Please Me When You Can
- The Drought
- Old Man Henry
- Now Not Later
- My Witness
- Wish You Would Kiss Me
- You Almost Fell
- Favorite Fool
- You Were With Me Then
Bonus Tracks: Get Rhythm, You’re An Angel
You can Pre-order this album from Jamesslimhand.com.
Oct 20th Austin Moose Lodge in Austin, TX -CD RELEASE PARTY – $12 COVER – DOORS OPEN AT 8PM, JAMES @10:00PM
& Waterloo Records in Austin, TX from 5PM – 5:30PM – IN STORE CD RELEASE.
~ Richard Diehn
Richard Diehn hails from the hills of Northern West Virginia where he grew up as a member of his family’s traveling band. He’s a writer, storyteller, and certified Rockhound. He enjoys fishing, Gentleman Jack, and stalking his favorite country singer George Jones.
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