On his second release for United Artists, Gerry Rafferty focuses an equal amount of attention on his lyrics and on the sincerity of the song's moods to create one his strongest and most heartfelt albums. Delicate, touching, and extremely poignant, Rafferty blankets all of Night Owl's tracks with a late-night/early-morning earnestness that is highly effective throughout. Although he managed to do just that with 1978's City to City, Night Owl generates a stronger intimacy and a genuine romantic feel through Rafferty's guitar playing and the way in which his lyrics are sung. The sentimental softness of "Days Gone Down," the controlled exuberance in "Get It Right Next Time," and the pathos which is instilled for the lonely wanderer in "Night Owl" all add to the album's solemn yet moving atmosphere. Rafferty continues this mood with tracks such as "Why Won't You Talk to Me," "Family Tree," and "It's Gonna Be a Long Night," giving the traditional singer/songwriter style some enchantment and allure through his vocal subtlety. In the U.K. the album broke into the Top Ten, and in the United States it sold 500,000 copies, earning Rafferty a gold disc. "Night Owl," "Days Gone Down," and "Get It Right Next Time" all cracked the Top 30, but unfortunately Rafferty failed to match the success of Night Owl with any of his albums that followed.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne