"Everything Richard Thompson touched from '82-85 turned to gold (except on the charts, unfortunately), as this superb album demonstrates. As many have pointed out, it's a logical continuation of the classic Richard & Linda "farewell" album "Shoot Out The Lights." Any album that opens with the forget-the-pain-let's-rock "Tear Stained Letter" (capped by long, stinging solo by RT) has to be good. And indeed track after brilliant track follows. "How I Wanted To" is a lump-in-the-throat song of regret with a crystalline guitar solo that says as much as the lyrics. "Both Ends Burning" (not included on the Amazon track list) lightens the mood with a rollicking tale about horse racing. The stomping "A Poisoned Heart and Twisted Memory" is the opposite side of "How I Wanted To"--a bitter "good riddance" song perfect to wash away those moments of self-pity after a breakup. "The Wrong Heartbeat" is a wry pop song that should have been a hit (and is a holdover from the Linda era). "Hand of Kindness" is a long, tense track with more sterling guitar. "Devonside" is a beautiful, haunting folk-style ballad. The album concludes with "Two Left Feet," a lighthearted polka that unfortunately Richard played to death in concert over the years...but it sounded pretty fresh when the album was new.The quality of "Hand of Kindness" became more evident as Richard's albums became choppy and inconsistent after this one. Make no mistake, this is a great one and should be a cornerstone of any Thompson collection."
Best Post Linda
firstname.lastname@example.org | Lorea | 10/15/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With Joe Boyd producing, and the same personnel, this sonically picks up where the masterpiece Shoot Out the Lights leaves off. Of course Linda's voice is gone but it is not a loss as the album is so forthwright that Richard can anchor the disc. Unlike later Thompson efforts, the song quality is consistent. The spare production and instrumentation puts craft in the fore front, not buried under Mitchel Froom's keyboards. Many point to Rumour and Sigh as his best solo effort, but among some gems a quarter of those songs are busts. This is a tight, singular piece of work, a great flipside to 'Lights."
Touches of levity, Compelling love songs, Dazzling guitar
dev1 | Baltimore | 04/23/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hand of Kindness is a fine collection of British-folk rock: heavy on the folk, and light on the rock. Why Richard Thompson isn't recognized as a prominent guitar master is beyond me. One listen to his aching English love ballad `Devonside' about "the girl with the shiver in her eyes" should be convincing enough. Richard's melodic embellishments and improvisation are elegant. As usual, Richard takes a less than enthusiastic view of love. `How I Wanted To' is filled with regrets of not being able to call an end to the end. In the blues-rocker `A Poisoned Heart And A Twisted Memory,' he not only loses his love, but also forfeits his pride and dignity. `Hand of Kindness' is a mystical composition about seeking the comfort of a stranger. I'm not enthusiastic with the heavy use of saxophone and accordion on this CD. The shuffle `Tear Stained Letter' races ahead at what seems like 100 miles per hour. And despite the clever lyrics, I have little use for the polka (Two Left Feet). Overall, Hand of Kindness has a touches of levity (Both Ends Burning, Two Left Feet) and compelling love songs (How I Wanted To, Devonside) all imprinted with Richard's dazzling guitar."
A man in need, post-Linda
dev1 | 05/11/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Thompson's first post-Linda release, on which the sardonic songwriter and guitar virtuoso seems to be adjusting nicely to life as a single man. (Historical note: he's remarried since then.) A wrenching ballad like "How I Wanted To" might reasonably be read as an expression of conjugal remorse. Otherwise, though, the guy's in rollicking form, banging out Sherwood-Forest-style reggae on "The Wrong Heartbeat" and an irresistible polka on "Two Left Feet." Thompson has never written a lovelier piece than "Devonside," which sounds like it's been aging in the barrel for the last three hundred years. And the title cut features not only a fine electric guitar blowout but some stealth background vocals from the likes of John Hiatt and Bobby King."
One of his best!
Bucky | 03/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For me, RT is better off with out Linda. Why am I saying this now? Because he made this after the split, and the fact that he can make an album like Hand of Kindness after breaking up one of folk's greatest duos shows he could have carried it on by himself the whole time. Sorry guys.
As a guitar player, he shines the most on this album, and as a singer, even more. Each song is one good one after the other, and if you enjoy it as much as I do, you keep listening to it, day after day. Besides Richard, the production is fabulous, and it helps RT's talents shine even more.