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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Laufey brings jazz to a new audience in ‘Bewitched’

Kaya Donah

Icelandic-Chinese jazz singer and TikTok microcelebrity Laufey has outdone herself by providing a new, genre-bending album in “Bewitched,” following her first studio album, “Everything I Know About Love.”

Laufey was trained in classical music by her family (all string players), and formally trained in jazz at Berklee College of Music, so making sure that all her songs were recorded from live music was a priority.

“For my next album (Bewitched) I really decided to lean into my roots,” Laufey said in an interview with the Zach Sang Show. “I knew I wanted to take jazz music, classical sounds, strings and stuff and introduce it to a new audience of listeners.”

This new approach worked, as Laufey broke streaming records left and right for highest streamed jazz song of all time and highest streamed jazz debut album.

The album begins with “Dreamer,” and you’re immediately hit with flowery harmonies right out of the gate. Laufey whisks you away to her world; one where love is the only thing on her mind, and thoughts (mostly anxieties) of boys float gracefully into the listener’s ears. As the drums and piano enter softly, the song builds. Then, Laufey takes two quick beats and proclaims, “No boy’s gonna kill the dreamer in me.”

This line is a perfect one to begin this album with because “Bewitched” is an album about love. However, what makes it so perfect is that Laufey picked the name of the album before she even began writing the music.

Laufey explained that she writes both songs and albums in a backwards way. She starts with a feeling, whether that’s being second best or feeling haunted by a lover leaving. The song titles are the essence of the song, and then she writes the song around them.

The next big highlight comes in the form of “Lovesick.” The initial guitar fades into the background as the piano takes charge in the second verse, and then you hear more stunning string swells in the chorus that give it the sense of grandeur that you likely long to experience.

Laufey collaborated with the world-famous, London-based Philharmonia Orchestra on the next song, “California and Me,” which definitely sticks out thematically compared to the rest of the songs off the album. Laufey touches on the feeling of her home being lost, now that she’s lost her lover. It’s one that’s absolutely crushing, but you can’t help but feel warm thanks to the sharp staccato notes from the flute and crescendo of the clarinets and strings.

The next two songs are viral singles with two completely different vibes. In “Promise,” Laufey feels that love is some sick addiction she can’t be free of, singing in one lyric, “I should get a cigarette for so much restraint.”

This line references how she wants to call an ex so badly, and she has to promise herself not to give in. She eventually falters after “16 long days,” which is a direct reference to an actual experience of hers. Laufey’s known for including little tidbits about her real life, and this one just hits the listener where it hurts.

Next up is the album’s hit, currently with 112 million streams on Spotify, “From The Start.” Made viral on TikTok and the song truest to bossa nova on the album, Laufey describes the feeling of love at first sight. Or, if you prefer, a little feeling she’s had from the start. It’s the most upbeat song on the album, which is nice because the next song makes the listener crumble to pieces.

In by far the most personal song of the album, “A Letter To My 13 Year Old Self,” Laufey gives exactly what’s advertised. Her insecurities about curly hair, boys and feeling foreign after moving to the United States after growing up in Iceland are all heartbreaking to hear from such a renowned and mature master of her craft. Because no matter how desired Laufey may be now, her little 13-year-old self will never get that satisfaction.

Luckily, the very last song of the album takes a happier twist. The title track, “Bewitched,” is a song about finding her love, and learning just how nice that feeling can be. This is best illustrated in the lines, “The world froze around us, you kissed me good night / You bewitch me / Every damn second you’re with me.”

Laufey’s “Bewitched” is an album that covers first crushes, brutal heartbreak and everything in between. Utilizing genre-bending techniques in a classical-jazz fusion, her music is one that has no choice but to evolve to the times. She’s effectively bringing younger generations in on genres that have long been gatekept. With tools as strong as social media and millions of teenagers on her side, Laufey is headed on a track to superstardom that will reach its goal before you know it.

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