I was provided with a YouTube link to a video of this song, and seeing it begin playing before managing to switch my computer’s speakers on didn’t really fill me with confidence. Craig Lawlor is a thoughtful-looking chap, and the video primarily shows him looking pensive and strumming an acoustic guitar in a variety of locations that appear to have been chosen to evoke ‘serious’ – against a tatty wall in a back street, on some waste ground, by a waterway – as well as wandering into a vinyl-filled record shop and thumbing through the Dylan section. Having managed to actually hear as well as see the video, I was pleasantly surprised to find that If You Knew is a nicely upbeat tune.
It’s not the most revolutionary of songs – the chord sequence is fairly standard, and the lyrics aren’t exactly Walt Whitman, but it has a definite charm. Somehow despite the fact that in places almost every word is an almost-too-easy rhyme (“you’re like the moon/you’ll be going soon”) Lawlor manages to build up a compelling scenario. The chorus states “If you knew the things I do when I’m not with you, you wouldn’t see me in this light. And if you could know the places I go when I’m alone, well, you wouldn’t want to know me at all”, and frankly I’m quite curious. It’s a clever writing idea – the song attracts interest by raising more questions than it answers.
The tune is very catchy, getting stuck in my head after a single listen, and the textures of the track give a radio-friendly sheen to proceedings. On the recording, the acoustic guitar is joined by bass, drums, keyboard and lead guitar, over which Lawlor’s voice floats effortlessly. The small instrumental before the final chorus is a particularly nice touch – it isn’t stated whether it is Lawlor himself or a session musician, but whoever it is should be proud. I don’t know how it would translate to a solo performance, but as presented here If You Knew is a very enjoyable listen, and I shall look forward to hearing more from Craig Lawlor in the future.