On one hand, Tonight’s The Night is a growing step into the desolation of loss and struggles of ambiguity as an artist begins to step further into stardom. At the other, the instrumentation is at times, a striking display of truly soulful near-country folk tracks that blend to fit a rock backbone. With the opening of the self-titled track, “Tonight’s The Night” is a gentle build that raises suspicion rather than any firework displays of introductions. Young is subtle, but firm in his approach and is able to lend out a hand in this iconic bass line that manages to appear multiple times through the record. Even when the music stops, this groove of bass and percussion makes notes similar to entries in a diary.
As the lyrics describe, “If you never heard him sing, I guess you won’t too soon… Cause people let me tell you, it sent a chill up and down my spine. When I picked up the telephone and heard that he died, out on the mainline.” While it is the first moments spent with Young on the record, this wave of compassion follows as the howls that he delivers are emotional and feel well-connected. Even as he transitions into some of the more rock ‘n roll heavy tracks like “World On A String,” there are still these relations to almost despair and vast nothingness.
He illustrates over some fantastic and rough rhythms from the guitars, “You know I lose, you know I win. You know I call for the shape I’m in. It’s just a game you see me play, only real in the way that I feel from day to day.” Before he bounces into these other sluggish, more methodical tracks, Young can capture this raging spirit even if the undertones are better suited toward loss. There are moments of new leaves that turn into sprouting trees like on “New Mama” that is a discovery in the beauty of childbirth through how the sun also rises. He describes, “New mama’s got a sun in her eyes, no clouds are in my changing skies. Each morning when I wake up to rise, I’m living in a dreamland.”
As soon as the last lyrics are sung, “Lookout Joe” blitzes into the listener and knocks them over with a whirlwind of overbearing, but standout production. One of Young’s strongest displays on Tonight’s The Night, “Lookout Joe” jumps into being a progressive boost in tone, but only in sound. The lyrics are a beaten and disgruntled look into how times have continued to change, even to a shell-shocked narrator. Young describes, “Remember Millie from down in Philly? She took my brain and forgot my name. The woman you were with was about the same, she took your money and left town. Lookout Joe, you’re coming home. Old times were good times.” At any rate, Young’s powerful display of musical prowess here is more than necessary to create a bond into being energetic but still disheartening.
As every moment on Tonight’s The Night is spent, the record is broken in most ways, but more in the storytelling and approachability. Young is simply a vivid narrator that brings catchy lyricism and intriguing production to cover the waves of immense hopelessness that makes life through his eyes seem almost miserable before the morning sun vanquishes the horrible night.