Though he’s been making powerful original Country music for over forty years, until recently James Hand had unjustly remained one of American music’s secret treasures – a local legend in Texas, modestly plying his craft in countless smoky dives and dancehalls to a slowly widening circle of admirers. What he does, he does straight from his heart, taking the hard-won lessons that life and love have taught him and pouring them into his songwriting and performing.
James Hand sings like nobody but himself, his phrasing drawing out the pain and humor of his lyrics with an unpredictable yet soulful series of tiny inflections. His songs are equally mysterious and unclassifiable. While they are noticeably rich with the influences of his heroes – classic country architects like Hank, Lefty, and Ernest – Hand’s songs are uniquely his, imbued with equal parts gallows humor and the ability to stare unflinchingly into life’s darkest corners. Today at the unlikely age of 55, Hand is just starting to receive the attention he deserves after having released his first nationally-distributed album in 2006, The Truth Will Set You Free, produced by Asleep at the Wheel front man Ray Benson and legendary Texas producer and multi-instrumentalist Lloyd Maines.
The album features confident, definitive versions of twelve of Hand’s original compositions – songs that are at once refreshingly unique and classically timeless. Now poised at the brink of national attention, if anything, he is more humble now than ever. ”The people around me really came through for me,” he says, with not a trace of affectation, ”The record company, my producers, and my band. In fact, sometimes I think the only person who hasn’t been kind to me is me…”