With a soothing voice reminiscent of the 1930s and a nostalgic, bossanova sound, Icelandic singer-songwriter Laufey has modernized jazz music for our generation’s youth in just her early twenties.
A well-rounded musician and performer, some of Laufey’s singles include “Falling Behind” and “Fragile,” as well as “Love To Keep Me Warm” and “Let You Break My Heart Again” in which she collaborated with British singer-songwriter Dodie and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra.
But while most are getting a September listening party together for Olivia Rodrigo’s highly anticipated “GUTS,” Laufey holds her own with “Bewitched.” At once poignant, romantic and yes – bewitching – Laufey’s autumnal album has struck a chord with those who love to love and hate to be heartbroken.
“Bewitched” holds a total of 14 songs. The album begins with “Dreamer,” where the singer proudly declares her dissociation from the dating game; “You can’t pin me down, I fear all solid ground.” She continues to humorously remark on being content with her single status: “Boys just make me cry, believe me I have tried.” This lyric in particular I can get behind. Then she hooks us with “No boy’s gonna kill the dreamer in me.” You go, girl!
Laufey follows that up with “Second Best” and “Haunted,” tapping into the bitter heartbreak of earnestly loving someone who can not (or will not) reciprocate it. Through lyrics such as, “Oh you were my everything, I was your second best” and “I know he don’t love me quite like I love him […] this will end ’til he haunts me again,” and a dizzying symphonic quality, we are met with the singer’s misery like it is our own.
“While You Were Sleeping” is a personal favorite of mine. The song and the 1995 film starring Sandra Bullock draw many similarities between each other. Despite a title that is widely misinterpreted, both portray love in a charming, truthful way. And it’s not creepy at all, I promise.
Laufey’s version opens with steady, acoustic guitar strumming. Her signature voice comes through, you will be singing along, smiling in spite of yourself. She gives special importance to each word. “An ocean away, The heavens would say It was meant to be.”
“While you were sleeping, I fell in love.” Again, it sounds menacing, but here is my interpretation. It suggests the moment she fell in love, the moment anyone falls in love is unexpected. It is not at all earth-shattering as portrayed in the movies. Instead, you could literally spring up at three in the morning with the revelation that you are in love with the guy who is dead asleep next to you. In the moment, you would not even tell him. That, to me, is the beauty and humanity of this song.
I could envision this album being a hit among orchestral musicians as well. Laufey collaborates with the Philharmonia Orchestra once again on “California and Me.” There’s “Nocturne (Interlude),” a solo piano piece that teases the rest of the album. It is followed by “Promise” and everyone’s favorite, according to Spotify, “From The Start.”
I would assume “From The Start” is her leading single. It is upbeat, easygoing, just one of those songs perfect for warm apple cider and bonfires. And not without the Laufey touch, you can tell she was having a good time on this track.
The next four songs are like the transition from fall to winter. All the more reflective, all the more poignant. “Misty” feels like you’re walking out of the cold into an empty bar, except for the cute guy playing piano while you have a drink. “Serendipity” will haunt you with its crooning strings section.
“Letter To My 13 Year Old Self” is the second to last song, whisking us away to a time before Laufey understood what she needed to write about and why. I admire how she tries to make peace with her younger self, because from a thirteen year old’s perspective, life is one heartache after another. But once you get everything you ever wanted, it’s like all those days spent worrying were for nothing. So she’s really writing to the teen girls of the world. She’s really saying, “Hey, don’t forget I was there too!”
The Autumn Album comes full circle with “Bewitched,” which both sounds and feels like a fantasy romance film. Seriously, the strings in this song are otherworldly. Laufey captures every essence of Bewitched in “Bewitched”; romantic sentience, bitter pain, magic, and nostalgia all make their way into this song – finishing up the album.
I will be honest, the first listen-through of “Bewitched,” I could not make a clear distinction between certain songs. Yet as I came to understand each song for their individual message, I found it quite simple to pick my favorites. While I do wish Laufey had more lyrical variety (too many love songs), her voice and musical style are nothing like we’ve heard before. It makes me eager for what’s next.
“GUTS” fits the Halloween vibe perfectly. Rodrigo is a big name. But what happens when “spooky season” is over? What if you are looking to wind down before the holidays kick back up again? Laufey’s got you covered.