Picks and Pans Review: Sleight of Hand

updated 07/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Joan Armatrading

Though love is the subject there is no greeting-card sentimentality on this fine album. As always, Armatrading perambulates the dark side of the street, but without despair or self-pity. Her abiding concern might be described as exfatuation, with lyrics that typically deal with the futility of trying to patch up a fractured relationship or the self-destructiveness of jealous imaginings. Armatrading's self-produced album uses billowy arrangements and basic rock instrumentation to emphasize her resonant voice and moving guitar playing. Such compositions as One More Chance, Reach Out and Kind Words (And A Real Good Heart) are among the best she has ever written. Armatrading's varied music and thoughtful words reflect a woman of feeling and experience. (A&M)

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