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The Smoke Signal

The Student News Site of Minnechaug Regional High School

The Smoke Signal

The Student News Site of Minnechaug Regional High School

The Smoke Signal


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“Bewitched” by Laufey – Album Review

An Icelandic-Chinese Singer with Music in her Veins

In a music landscape dominated by the omnipresence of synth-pop and other musical ideas of the 1980s, to come across an artist like Laufey, who wears her jazz and classical influences on her sleeve, feels like a breath of fresh air. From the romantic swell of strings to opening vocal harmonies a-la the Andrews Sisters, Laufey creates a sonic palette that blends a vintage style with modern pop sensibilities.

Laufey Lín Jónsdóttir, known mononymously as Laufey, is an Icelandic-Chinese singer with music in her veins. Her mother is a classical violinist, while her father was a lover of jazz, greatly influencing the music she would go on to make. She’s cited jazz icons Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Chet Baker as her greatest influences. Laufey’s far from stuck in the past, though. With her music, she aspires to bring jazz to the mainstream, a genre widely regarded to be stuck in the past.

“I don’t want jazz and classical music to have these reputations moving forward that they’re only for a certain set of society or people who are educated enough to indulge in it – I just want it to be the people’s music,” she told Rolling Stone.
On her sophomore album, Bewitched, Laufey accomplishes this and more. Lyrically, the record delves into different facets of romantic life, such as an unrequited affair, (“Second Best”, “Haunted”, and “From the Start”) newfound love, (“Must Be Love”, “While You Were Sleeping”, and “Bewitched”) and heartbreak (“Lovesick” and “California and Me”).

“This is a love album, whether it be a love towards a friend or a lover or life,” Laufey said of the album’s themes.
In contrast to her debut Everything I Know About Love’s themes of growing up, she said that since then, “I’ve experienced a little bit more of that, and I’m writing about the magic in the love of being young.”

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Like any great album, the musical quality came about with a little help from her friends, in this case, main collaborators such as the producer, Spencer Stewart, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, who perform on “California and Me” and “Bewitched”.
When Laufey has a musical idea in her head, she brings it to Stewart to further flesh it out into song form, working to express the precise emotions she wants to get across.

“We understand each other so well that it usually comes out quickly. I usually lay down the guitar first and then I sing. We recorded most of Bewitched in his home studio,” she told Rolling Stone.

The Philharmonia Orchestra’s role, on the other hand, was to provide the musical backdrop that befits the emotion being conveyed. On “Bewitched”, Laufey said, “I wanted the Philharmonia Orchestra to illustrate that feeling when you’re first falling in love with someone, and for it to emulate the thoughts that run through your head after a perfect first date.”

What really makes this record stand out, then, are Laufey’s vocals. Laufey has a lower register unorthodox for a pop vocalist, yet it suits the record perfectly. Her soaring, airy way of singing about romance and yearning conjures images of classic Hollywood films, from the saccharine scores of Disney films such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella to plucky heroines like Dorothy Gale longing for somewhere “Over the Rainbow”.

If there’s any word to describe this album, bewitching is certainly a befitting choice. Between the enchanting vocals, ornate arrangements, and diaristic songwriting, there’s a lot to entrance the average listener, whether they be a lover of Taylor Swift or a fan of the jazz greats of yesteryear. So do yourself a favor and give Laufey’s new record a try.

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