It's curious that Night Life -- the first album Thin Lizzy recorded for Mercury, the first album to feature guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, the album that in many ways kicked off their classic era -- is in many ways a complete anomaly within their catalog. It's a subdued, soulful record, smooth in ways that Thin Lizzy never were before and rarely were afterwards. To be sure, the title Night Life is accurate but not in the sense of this providing a soundtrack for a night out on the town -- quite the opposite actually. This is the soundtrack for an intimate night in, either alone or as a pair, since it has moments ideal for either contemplation or seduction. There are still some moments of tough, primal rock & roll -- there's the funky workout of "It's Only Money" and the nasty "Sha-La-La," both excellent showcases for Gorham and Robertson -- but they stick out among the jazzy, soulful whole, even if they never quite disrupt the mood. And it's that mood that's so appealing about Night Life -- it's a warm, soulful sound that resonates in ways Thin Lizzy's earlier records didn't. And it's not just because of the feel of the music, either, it's due to Phil Lynott's increasing growth as a songwriter. Much of this is quite sentimental -- especially the closing "Dear Heart" -- but it's never saccharine or sappy, it's big-hearted and effecting, best-heard on the gently propulsive, utterly addictive opener "She Knows" and the easy-rolling jazzy "Showdown." These may be the high-water marks on this album, but they're not the only highlights, they're just the most immediate, representative signs of the charms of this underrated gem of a record.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine