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Can Laufey’s “Bewitched” truly beguile its listeners?

Laufeys+new+album+features+songs+that+pay+tribute+to+her+musical+influences+while+also+maintaining+a+sense+of+intrigue+for+younger+music+lovers.
Courtesy of AWAL
Laufey’s new album features songs that pay tribute to her musical influences while also maintaining a sense of intrigue for younger music lovers.

There’s a certain quality in Laufey Lín Jónsdóttir’s voice that sounds almost supernatural. Taking the musical stage under her first name—pronounced “lay-vay”—the 24 year-old singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and Berklee College of Music alum takes inspiration from her Icelandic father’s immense enthusiasm for traditional jazz, and her Chinese mother’s familial passion for classical music, to create her unique amalgamation of bedroom pop-style modern jazz.

Laufey has gifted her listeners with a set of wonderful set of works, from her first EP, “Typical Of Me”—featuring her first ever release, “Street by Street,” that garnered the attention of the likes of Billie Eilish—to her debut album, “Everything I Know About Love.” The latter runs the emotional gamut with lyrics that paint serene visuals and are yet still warm with feeling thanks to her full-bodied voice. Laufey’s second LP, “Bewitched,” carries on that enchanting quality in a unique manner, this time using a more heart-on-her-sleeve approach.

We are first greeted by a Laufey who needs to satisfy her romantic delusions in “Dreamer,” a three and a half-minute opener that begins with an entrancing harmony and transitions into a calming brush beat that mimics mid-20th century jazz. “Haunted” explains these desires in more depth, likening a short love to being haunted by a ghost who always visits yet never stays. “I swear to myself as he leaves at dawn/This will end, ‘til he haunts me again,” she sighs.

Some of the album’s gems are found in its latter half. “California And Me” is a piece that was produced in part with the Philharmonia Orchestra, which explains its sumptuous and expansive orchestral background. Laufey expresses her hurt over a lover who lacked patience and left her, and the Pacific coast, for an old flame. “Promise” expands on that hurt, the singer realizing that nothing would come of staying despite the love she once had, saying “It hurts to be something/It hurts to be nothing with you/I’ve done the math/there’s no solution/We’ll never last.” The title track closes out the album with a whimsical arrangement that could be mistaken for a classic Disney score. Laufey reveals the meltdown that occurs inside her every time her beloved comes and goes, a polar opposite to the composed version of herself we see in “Dreamer.” “I try to think straight but I’m falling so badly/I’m coming apart/You wrotе me a note, cast a spell on my hеart,” she admits in a weakened yet soothing voice.

One gem that particularly shines is “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self,” which is in fact exactly what its title suggests. For Laufey, it’s an ode to her young self growing up mixed in Reykjavik, wanting to find solace in her dreams and aspirations. She hopes to see a day where she goes from being laughed at for her name’s difficult pronunciation to people yelling said name as she takes the stage. Of the lyrics, she comments that “maybe some of the younger girls who listen will find comfort in that song.”

It’s one thing to create an album that is lyrically enchanting, but another to do so using an archaic genre like jazz. Laufey herself discusses this in some detail, saying that “the history of music in general is that it does always move forward. I think as long as you honor the roots and know where it’s coming from, that’s the important part.” She achieves this with “Bewitched,” creating a body of work that speaks to the expansive delusions of youths everywhere while still paying tribute to the standards that taught her.

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