"Broken Watch" may have been the song that created SMSM as it is now, but "When You Look" is the song that initiated my return to songwriting. I had just moved up to Cincinnati, and for the first time in a long time I was content. I was by myself, sure, but I had a goal, I had no baggage anymore, and I felt free. I started playing a lot of music because I didn't have a job, and therefore had nothing better to do. I started thinking back on the last chapter of my life and realized how miserable I had been, and the reasons behind that misery.
"When You Look" came about because I finally understood the nature of forgiveness. I tried to write a song that could be taken from the perspective of the listener, but for me it was a prayer. To God. Or maybe it was supposed to be to a father figure. Or a lover. I don't know. That's up to the listener to decide. But the whole idea is wrapped up into the line repeated at the start of each verse: "When you look into my eyes, can you tell me what you see?" I liked the idea of the parallel between the person you've become, and the person still deep within you. Are you the product of what you've done, or are you more than that? Maybe this is a nature vs. nurture thing. Or maybe it's simpler than that.
At it's core, "When You Look" is about redemption. You're more than the sum of your parts. Who you are and what you've done aren't necessarily the same thing. I wanted this song to be a simple, easy song. I'll also say the cello solo in the middle is one of the most beautiful things I've heard. Michael Ronstadt pulled something out of that song that I didn't know existed. Every album I write has one song that is the most "me." This is the song where I tried to find out what was in my heart and put it on a page. Each of the songs that I write like "When You Look" are usually passed over in the album. Most people treat this song as a deep cut that fills the album out. And maybe it is. But if you want to peer into my soul, start here.