The period between the September 1979 release of Kris Kristofferson's ninth album, Shake Hands With the Devil, and the January 1981 release of his tenth, To the Bone, was an eventful one in his life. In December 1979, he and Rita Coolidge divorced, and he spent much of the period working on Heaven's Gate, an epic film that opened to disastrous reviews in November 1980, devastating his movie career. Since Shake Hands With the Devil had also been a commercial failure, and To the Bone was the last album on his contract with Monument Records, his singing career didn't seem to be in any better shape. Not surprisingly, he used the record to vent his feelings about his personal life. Many of the songs were addressed directly to a former romantic partner, and they detailed a relationship that had exhausted itself, leaving behind it considerable emotional pain and domestic complications, in particular a small child whose concerns were discussed in "Daddy's Song." Kristofferson quoted verses from the 1952 Hank Thompson hit "The Wild Side of Life" in two songs and filled his own lyrics with references to aging, though he found space for his favorite references -- freedom and the Devil -- as well. The result was a painful recording to listen to, but a worthwhile one as well, comparable -- in sentiment -- to Marvin Gaye's 1979 album Here, My Dear. And Kristofferson's pain was not without its commercial aspect. Though Monument, itself nearly moribund, had little ability or incentive to promote the album, a single, "Nobody Loves Anybody Anymore," made the country charts, and the LP charted for several weeks, too. But that was it, and the singer/songwriter/movie star entered a career eclipse, not appearing in a feature film for three years and not releasing another solo album for six.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann