Laufey - Bewitched

Featured album from our weekly newsletter #03-2024 (January 2024)

Bewitched is the second studio album by Icelandic singer songwriter Laufey, released in September 2023 via AWAL Recordings.

Laufey is a singer-songwriter from Iceland who has achieved prominence in the early 2020s for her success as a jazz artist, with critics noting that her jazz-inflected songs have received considerable success for a genre that has largely declined commercially.

Having performed as a cello soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra aged 15, Laufey was a finalist on Iceland's Got Talent (2014) before she was a semi-finalist on The Voice Iceland (2015). She released her debut EP, Typical Of Me (2021), and graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Her debut album, Everything I Know About Love (2022), was released to critical acclaim and charted in Iceland and the United States.

Her second studio album Bewitched followed in September 2023 and has also received critical acclaim and attained significant chart success in many countries, reaching #1 on both the US and Australian Jazz albums charts.

This is a beautiful album and she deftly navigates traditional jazz, classical and the Great American Songbook sounds with contemporary pop and jazz influences. Laufey has cited Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Chet Baker, Norah Jones, Taylor Swift, Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin as her influences, and you can hear these throughout the album.

The album opens with the gorgeous “Dreamer” with old school vocal harmonies before moving into a gentle shuffle, followed by the gentle “Second Best” with some lovely guitar work and strings floating giving a lush overtone. This template of restrained musicianship with instruments well placed providing colour and shape is maintained throughout the album.

The delicate orchestral “California And Me” closes out Side A and the piano instrumental “Nocturne (Interlude)” opens Side B, which is gorgeous. The first single released from the album “From The Start” has a lovely bosa nova feeling and skips along with a light and breezy touch, showing a playful side to her.

Laufey covers the classic jazz standard “Misty” with restraint, primarily with just piano backing, allowing her voice to shine through. She adds a personal touch with her “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self” as she sings in hushed tones “…I'm so sorry that they pick you last / Try to say your foreign name and laugh / I know that you feel loud, so different from the crowd / Of big blue eyes, and long blonde hair, and boys that stare / But, baby, know that / You'll grow up / And grow so tough and charm them…”. How these words must resonate with so many.

The album closes with a gorgeous love song title track “Bewitched”, set to three four time, backed by the legendary Philharmonia Orchestra, again giving the song a luscious and warm wrapping for the listener.

The Captain” has thoroughly enjoyed this album with its blend of familiar and contemporary sounds, bringing back a jazz vocal musical style into light again. Bewitched is an album to be enjoyed in the evening, and to be swept into the orbit of this charming and talented 24 year old.

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