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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Under Her Spell | Bewitched by Laufey

Under+Her+Spell+%7C+Bewitched+by+Laufey

The enchanting new album by Icelandic-Chinese singer Laufey, pronounced lay-vay, brings to mind one of my all-time favorite films. In the 2016 film La La Land, talented pianist Sebastian dreams of bringing a new life to jazz saying, “It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s just new every time.”

This is exactly what Laufey is doing with her music. She’s bringing new modernized life to the universe of jazz, while still tying in stylistic details stemming from the old-fashioned jazz she grew up listening to. Headlines such as “Laufey logs biggest jazz debut in two years with Bewitched,” or “Laufey’s enchanting new album brings jazz back,” help drive this point home.

It has been nearly a month since this album was released, and I can still vividly remember hearing the opening melodic harmonies of “Dreamer” for the first time. She grabs us from the start with soulful heartfelt lyrics, leaving us no choice but to stick around till the end.

“I’m moving up into a cloud, into my fantasy /

And no boy’s gonna be so smart as to /

Try and pierce my porcelain heart /

No boy’s going to kill the dreamer in me.”

As the album continues, Laufey tells stories of eternal hope and holding onto a sense of wonder no matter the circumstances until we reach the climax of the album – “Lovesick.” 

“Lovesick” begins slowly, building up to an explosive chorus encapsulating her desire and yearning for romantic love. This song is more of an experimental-pop take from Laufey; nevertheless, she brings her own atmosphere, transcending beyond average pop hits. 

Recently, many artists have begun including instrumentals to divide their albums. “Nocturne (Interlude)” is the 8th track on this album and is essentially a journey through all the musical motifs and magic this album holds. Although this interlude lacks vocals, Laufey is still very much present through her playing of piano, cello and guitar. Starting with intense piano buildup, leading to a more gentle and whimsical suite, Laufey takes us through all of her emotions, heartbreak, desires and more without speaking a word.

One of the most daring yet admirable things Laufey does with this album is cover a classic jazz song from her childhood. Now, I will note it would be nearly impossible to trump the original by Johnny Mathis, but Laufey puts in a valiant effort with “Misty.” She brings in all the warmth and sentiment of the original while also sprinkling in some of her own shimmer, making it one of my personal favorites from the album.

Following that, though, is the most personal and heartbreaking song on the album. “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self” shows love and acknowledgment to all those kids in school who got made fun of for their “exotic” lunch, or got picked last because of how they looked. In this song, Laufey speaks to her younger self about all the hardship reassuring her that it will get better and that her story has yet to be written.

“I wish I could go back and give her a squeeze /

Myself at thirteen /

And just let her know, know that she’s beautiful.”

Laufey has been blowing up since the debut of this album, with tour tickets now selling for well past triple the original price. Following her music for a while now, I am thrilled to hear how she continues to bring new life to jazz through her unique talent. This album — full of whimsy, luster and hope — is a must-listen for hopeless romantics and lovers alike. Laufey has fully put us under her spell.

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