A&E Review

Laufey “Bewitches” Listeners with New Album 

Photo courtesy of Genius.

Icelandic and Chinese-American jazz singer Laufey (pronounced lay-vay) has recently released her sophomore album “Bewitched,” receiving unprecedented success in the jazz category. On Sept. 8, 2023, she beat out Lady Gaga and Tony Benett for “most amount of day one streams for a jazz album” on Spotify, hitting 5.7 million streams day one. 

Laufey has been steadily rising in popularity over the past three years and thanks to her immense musical talent and recent virality on social media it is no wonder how she is breaking these records.

The album starts off with the track “Dreamer.” The track starts off with a four-part barbershop style vocal harmony. This was a pleasant surprise as the harmonies call back to the 1950s era and a sense of wonder and nostalgia akin to the likes of classic Disney movies. It was an absolute treat seeing this style of singing and harmony return in a modern format.

The song sets the story for this album and talks about how Laufey is done with the doom loop that is casual dating. She sang, “No boy is gonna kill the dreamer in me.” The music of “Dreamer” is a more upbeat, casual, swing-type tune and has a sense of jovialness and self-reassurance. However, despite the reassurance and jovialness, there is a sense of being trapped in this cycle with the lyrics towards the end of the song: “I can’t take another lifeless little chat; No boy’s gonna kill the dreamer in me…” Ending with the ellipses and a drawn out cadenza at the end adds room for interpretation to the song which will lead into the rest of the album.

Her following tracks “Second Best,” “Haunted” and “California and Me” dive deeper into the feeling of unreciprocated love, “Second Best” aiming more of being someone’s second choice or backup plan. “Haunted” targets the feeling of inescapability of being in love with someone while they do not feel the same about you. 

Both these songs appeal to the younger generation as it is mainly the younger generation who is going out into the dating scene for the first time and facing rejection for the first time. It is this targeted message combined with more modern vernacular and jazz to provide a sense of nostalgia that has allowed Laufey to achieve her unique sound.

Her other tracks “Must be Love,” “While you were Sleeping,” “From the Start,” “Misty,” “Serendipity” and the title trackBewitched” all feed into the feeling of being in love. Each song tackles the message from a different angle with a different type of emotion but all these songs share a common theme of falling or being in love. Love is a host of complex emotions, and Laufey aims to portray just the sheer variety of emotions that comes with love with these songs. 

The rest of the songs on the album “Lovesick,” “Promise,” “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self” and the interlude track evoke different emotions and touch on different aspects of life. “Lovesick” is Laufey expressing her frustration of being in love and that she is annoyed with herself for being in love again. 

“Promise” is about promising yourself you won’t contact this estranged love interest but doing so anyway. The interlude is a medley of a few different songs on the album that showcases the confusing and troubling emotions that come with love. Finally, there is “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self.”

“Letter To My 13 Year Old Self” is a unique track on this album as it has absolutely nothing to do with romantic love. In this track, Laufey does exactly what her title indicates and writes to her younger self, expressing reassurance that things will be OK and to not worry so much about the retrospective small things. She expresses sorrow that her younger self was picked on or left out and wishes to console her and comfort her, to tell her that not only are things going to be OK but that her “silly little dream” will come true.

All in all, “Bewitched” is a wonderful album that takes you on a journey through the wide range of feelings that accompany love. Laufey poured her heart and soul into this album and it shows. There is not a single bad track on this album which is typical of Laufey’s work, and each track has something impactful to say. 

I would easily rate this a 10/10 album, both in the overall message as well as in just the objective quality of the recordings. The songs are skillfully tracked, and the music is intentionally composed. I would recommend this album to anyone, even if you have never listened to jazz or similar genres.