Hand of Kindness
Following their final album and tour, Richard and Linda Thompson divorced, and Richard opened a new chapter of his career with 1983’s Hand of Kindness. Following the tension and misery of the classic Shoot Out the Lights, many fans saw its follow-up as a statement of renewed energy and optimism, and outwardly, that appears true. “Tear-Stained Letter” and “Two Left Feet” are uproarious bits of Cajun-and-Irish-inflected rock ‘n roll, while “Wrong Heartbeat” goes so far as to flirt with ska. However, the quickened tempos and cracking band barely disguise several of Richard’s darkest and most pained lyrics. Most of the songs find Thompson still grieving over his collapsed marriage, and even the stately R&B of “Poisoned Heart and A Twisted Memory” contains this devastating opening couplet: “Oh you took my word and you took my key / You took my pride and you took my dignity / How can I still pretend / To be what a man should be.” The album’s centerpiece is its title track, which upholds a belief in salvation even in the face of final despair.