During the 1980s, Steeleye went through a creative lull, releasing only 3 albums. However, by 1991, the band had begun to be creatively revitalized, thanks to the arrival of a new bassist, Tim Harries, and new drummer, Liam Genockey. Harries was significantly younger than the other members of the band and the arrival of both he and Genockey generally shook things up, their presence helping their bandmates find a renewed interest in what had become essentially an occasional side-activity. Steeleye found a fresh perspective on the material they had been performing for some time, and this is amply evident on 'Tonight', an album that balances the band's rock and folk perspectives. Genockey's drumming is generally enthusiastic and quite a change from Nigel Pegrum's traditional rock-style drumming.
The album includes new versions of several pieces from earlier albums. "Fighting for Strangers", one of the classic tracks off Rocket Cottage was given a new haunting percussion arrangement, and "White Man", from Back in Line was given a more cheerful guitar line. The album also included versions of "Cam Ye O'er Frae France" and their signature piece, "All Around My Hat", that reflected the way the band had been performing those songs for some time. Padstow is a faithful rendition of the song from Tempted and Tried. The cover of The Weaver and the Factory Maid is particularly effective. With a thrumming bass line, clicking percussion and repetitive violin and guitar lines, the song conveys the sense of a factory full of power looms.
The other half of the album is new pieces. The most experimental is "Tam Lin", Fairport Convention's signature tune. To find a new approach to the well-known folk song, Knight drew off the fact that the Tam Lin story is known in Bulgarian folk-lore, and wove together three Bulgarian tunes to create a quiet, haunting sound quite unlike Fairport's version. More vigorous are "Tonight's the Night" and "The Gentleman Soldier". "Ten Long Years" was a nod to the band's frequent a capella pieces.