Alexander Stewart Breaks Down His Walls on “If You Only Knew”

22 January 2024 / by Anastazja Marut
Alexander Stewart Album Review
Album reviews
Alexander Stewart if you only knew
Released: December 8, 2023
Label: FAE
Movement:
Pop
Lane:
Benson Boone / Thomas Day
Rating:
7/10
Heat:
knowing you exist, october, if you only knew

Brutally honest and poignant, Alexander Stewart’s if you only knew is a worthy addition to the singer’s discography. The EP addresses heartbreak, friendship, and mental health with a gentle touch, leaving no stone unturned.

 

In an industry saturated with songs and albums dedicated to love lost and hearts scorned, a taste of something new seems unlikely. What can be done that hasn’t been heard before? Enter Alexander Stewart: a twenty-four-year-old singer from Toronto with a taste for heartbreak and raw emotion. His latest release is an EP, six tracks long and packed with faded memories and hard truths. It’s not groundbreaking nor is it unlike any other breakup record, but unlike others rooted in anger and reliant on a villain, if you only knew looks inward as Stewart navigates life outside of his relationship.

 

The first track, “i wish you cheated,” grapples with the immediate aftermath of a breakup. Stewart searches for reasons to hate his ex, believing it will make moving on easier, but he finds none. There is no easy fix to his broken heart, and he continues to struggle with this throughout the record. He feels less than in “drunk thought” and keeps looking backwards in “knowing you exist.” All throughout, he maintains an emotional connection with listeners, and you can’t help but sympathize with him.

 

Soft piano melodies, layered vocals, and music that crescendos with his emotions work together to create the atmosphere within Stewart’s mind. For a moment, things seem to be getting better in “october,” until it all comes racing back: “Right when I’m feelin’ better / I forget then I remember you and I.” There’s a gentle back and forth between tracks as he tries to make sense of this new life without his partner. The fifth track, “he never will,” offers a departure from his own relationship, turning instead toward that of a friend.

 

For a moment, there seems to be some hope that there will be—at the very least—a bittersweet ending to this record. The record’s closing title track is a remarkably personal track about his struggle with depression. He’s completely transparent, singing, “If you only knew / What my mind is tellin’ me I should do.” The slight rasp in Stewart’s voice is more pronounced here, emphasizing the depth of his pain. It’s a deeply moving song, one that comes as a bit of a surprise at first. Ultimately, it is a culmination of all his hardships—a final note signing off.

 

How does an emerging pop artist make space for themselves amongst established stars? For Stewart, it’s a matter of being honest with himself and his audience, as well as finding those niche details that become associated with his music. Hints of a powerful voice yet to be fully realized and his ability to visualize stories through music make Stewart one to watch.