The first half of Unrequited is made up of studio recordings with various accompaniments, while side two was recorded live at the Bottom Line in New York City. This duality effectively showcases the strengths and weaknesses of Loudon Wainwright III's music, for he has always been much more potent when less orchestration is added to his simple folk songs. The album kicks off with a heavily rocked-up "Sweet Nothings," perhaps the least interesting track on the disc. It is followed by "The Lowly Tourist," which moves to a reggae beat with a sound that borrows blatantly from Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion." The album picks up after this, as the instrumentation becomes less obtrusive and the lyrics come more to the forefront. "Crime of Passion" features an understated arrangement with a nice touch from Richard Greene's violin. Side two presents Wainwright in his natural element, alone with a guitar on the stage of a small Greenwich Village club. Here, one can hear the lyrical craftsman at work, taking the audience along on an entertaining ride. "On the Rocks" begins, "You say you got domestic problems, well you should get a load of mine." "Mr. Guilty" is a classic Wainwright performance piece, with the title character feeling anything but. The album wraps up with "Rufus Is a Tit Man," about Loudon's boy Rufus being fed by his mom: "You can tell by the way the boy burps that it's gotta taste fine."
AllMusic Review by Jim Newsom