The title of Rejected Unknown might be aimed at Atlantic Records, who held Johnston in contractual limbo for years with little support or promotion after his major-label debut, 1994's Fun. Johnston was finally dropped by Atlantic, and the long since-completed Rejected Unknown finally emerged on Gammon Records in 2001 (after a planned Tim Kerr release was scrapped). While the music on Rejected Unknown can at first sound overly self-deprecating and even angry at times, Johnston is actually painting a much larger picture -- a picture of endless longing for acceptance, hopeless romanticism, and unrequited love. On the rollicking piano-driven "I Lose," Johnston sings "Got left out of the 'in' crowd/I seen their type/A bunch of buttwipes that rule," at once as sarcastic as Randy Newman and with the endearing quality for which Johnston has become known. Plus, Johnston's musical contribution to the album is far greater than on Fun, adding piano, guitar, and even percussion to many tracks. As with most of Johnston's albums, there are a few songs that just fall flat or come off as a little too coy, but overall, it's a quality addition to the catalog of one of songwriting's true originals.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Nickey