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Is Laufey’s new album “Bewitched” as bewitching as the title implies?

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Lynn Singh

I have to admit, I have disliked Laufey ever since I first heard about her and her modern jazz genre of music. 

Laufey is a 24 year-old jazz singer-songwriter who is originally from Iceland. Her first ever song came out in 2012, and she has been making music ever since. 

As a jazz musician myself, it was easy for me to think that her music could never be worthy of any of the great jazz musicians, and that she didn’t know what she was doing. That thought of mine first started when I heard her version of the song, “I Wish You Love,” popularly done by Sam Cooke and many other jazz artists. I am still not a huge fan of her version of that song, but after listening to her new album “Bewitched,” my thoughts on her music have definitely changed in her favor. 

Laufey’s album “Bewitched” was released on Sept. 8, and it includes 14 tracks for a total of 48 minutes of music. The album as a whole contains few instruments compared to other jazz albums, especially since she doesn’t include every instrument that’s on the album in each song. The instruments in this album includes her voice (along with backing vocals on certain tracks), drums, guitars, orchestral strings and even a flute at times. These are the only instruments throughout the whole album, and I find it impressive how she could create different but cohesive emotions in each song. 

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At first, Laufey’s light and airy voice really bothered me. I loved the instrumentation in her songs, which caused me to be upset that the vocals didn’t match with how I wanted them to sound. I continued to listen to this album multiple times, as well as her other songs, and the more I did, the more I grew accustomed to her soft voice. Now I see how her voice actually pairs almost perfectly with the rest of the instruments in the song, especially the strings which have the same tone, and everything comes together quite nicely. 

The album goes through a range of different emotions, with lines expressing her feelings at times of being in love, heartbroken and everything in between. While this is common in many music albums, Lafuey does it differently than many music artists of our time.

The album starts with the song “Dreamer,” which opens with a harmonization of Laufey’s voice before introducing the beautiful and whimsical piano followed by other instruments that are heard similarly throughout the album. In my opinion, this is the best song to start this album with, as it embodies what the rest of the album has in store. It also includes a short period of scatting, which is classic in the jazz genre and is well-placed and well-done in this instance. The song’s lyrics talk about how Laufey doesn’t want anyone to change who she is, being shown with a line in her main chorus, “No boy’s gonna kill the dreamer in me.”

The most upbeat song on this album is the tenth track entitled, “From The Start.” This has been deemed the most popular song on “Bewitched” by fans, and for a good reason. The song keeps the well-thought-through and fitting instrumentation like the rest of the album, but it’s the only song on the album that isn’t slow. Not only this, but Laufey has a scat solo about halfway through the song that lasts for about 30 seconds. This ties in with the classic jazz feel that the drums and chordal instruments have been expressing throughout the whole album. It’s something that most listeners of our time aren’t used to, but Laufey has mastered the craft of keeping her music classic enough to keep the principles of jazz but modern enough to attract new listeners. 

The track directly after “From The Start” is a jazz standard (a song that many jazz musicians know and have recorded) called “Misty”. The song “Misty” is one of my favorite songs of all time, and it has been done by so many great jazz musicians I can’t even count them on both hands. It was originally by the great pianist Erroll Garner, and I had extremely high standards for this song. I must say, this is definitely not my favorite version of this song, but it was not bad. Because Laufey didn’t write this song, I did think it stood out a bit from the rest of her album. “Misty” is an amazing song, and lucky Laufey did not ruin it, but she also didn’t add anything to it to make it special or different from the many versions that have been done in the past. 

Now to my favorite songs from the album. These songs include the album’s namesake, “Bewitched,” as well as “While You Were Sleeping,” and “Promise”. 

The latter two songs are opposites, as “While You Were Sleeping” is about being in love, and “Promise” is about falling out of love. “Promise” was a beautiful song with very soft instruments in the background, and Laufey’s voice rises and falls perfectly with the context of the song. 

“While You Were Sleeping” blew me away. Even from the first listen when I was skeptical of the whole album, I knew I liked that song. This song is more positive than a lot of the other songs as she is in love at this time, but the happy tones and lyrics such as “I’m dancing down street/smiling to strangers/idiotic things,” lure you into feeling the same emotion Laufey is. The instruments fit perfectly with the feeling of the song, and the notes expanded and lingered perfectly. This song is perfect. 

Laufey then chose to finish with the song after which the album is named, “Bewitched”. The reason I adored this song was for similar reasons as “While You Were Sleeping”. It had such a perfect texture of instruments in the background to back up the vocals in the beginning, then intensified as the song went on. I thought this was a good song to close off on because it was so simple, representing what the album was supposed to be. The orchestral strings in this song were whimsical and encompassed Laufey’s lovestruck feelings shown through her tone and lyrics. 

While trying to think of the songs I wanted to put on my honorable mention list, I realized I wanted to list almost every other song on this album. Almost. I wouldn’t say I dislike the song “Lovesick,” but I did think it wasn’t nearly as good as the other songs on this record. While the instrumentation on all of the other songs has been amazing, the instruments on this song seemed mushed together and didn’t help add contrast or emotion to the song as well as the others did. Personally, I think the album could have done without the track, but it’s not a bad song. 

All in all, I really enjoyed this album. Not only did I enjoy it, but it helped me realize that Laufey is a very talented artist and I like her music. Listen to this album, and if you don’t like it at first, listen to it a few times. Let it warm up to you. Listen closely to hear everything the instruments are doing, and how everything fits together like a glove. Appreciate it, because all together “Bewitched” was wonderfully thought-through and composed.

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About the Contributors
Magen Kranz, Arts and Culture Editor
Magen is a staff writer for the Stargazer, this year she serves as our Arts and Culture Editor. She is a sophomore and this is her second year on staff. Magen engages in student journalism because she enjoys working with her peers to create stories about our wonderful school.
Lynn Singh, Staff Writer/Media Team
Lynn is a staff photographer for Stargazer. She is a Sophomore, and this is their second year on staff. Lynn engages in student journalism because there is something special about capturing moments that bring students together.

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