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Album Anatomy: “Bewitched” by Laufey

Mi Nguyen
In Laufey’s latest album “Bewitched,” released on Sept. 8, 2023, she brings a jazzy and soothing take on the journey of love. Following the success of her previous album, “Everything I Know About Love,” her sophomore album comprises 14 songs, each bringing their own unique spin that is sure to bewitch the listener. Join writer Lily Toreja as she reviews each song and delves into their individual meanings.

14 beautiful tracks detailing growing up, falling in love and moving away from home enveloped by an achingly sweet jazz sound are the newest additions to the repertoire of Icelandic-Chinese jazz singer Laufey. Having found overwhelming success in 2022 and into 2023 with her orchestral sound and the certain stylized lilt in her vocals, she comes off the heels of a festival-filled summer and will enter fall with her North American tour.

Reminiscing: Tracks one through three – “Dreamer,” “Second Best” and “Haunted” 

She reminisces on a lost love, contrasting both hope and longing, resolve and defeat. Coupling her opposite feelings strategically incorporates an element of foreshadowing to her personal growth.  She opens the album with softer piano and guitar melodies, juxtaposing typically sanguine major keys with wistful, yet hopeful lyrics—a tribute to the elegantly discordant nature of jazz. In an Aug. 2023 interview with Zach Sang, the singer describes how she found her sound following her first heartbreak in Boston: “I spent every weekend going to New York … and I wrote in my journal ‘I have to take back my city and take back my life’ and I went back to my dorm room after this New York trip … and [it’s] just something clicked, I was like so excited […] I think I’ve found my sound.”

Realizing: Tracks four through six – “Must Be Love,” “While You Were Sleeping” and “Lovesick

With the help of someone new, she realizes her strength and second-guesses her reclusive tendencies. The relationships her songs are about are most understood to be romantic, but they can also be interpreted as self-reflective—a conversation between an older and a younger self. In conversation with Zach Sang, one can almost experience her growth vicariously through this album: “I was such an orchestra nerd, I moved to Boston from Iceland … and all of a sudden I had this new identity of being a young woman, being a musician … Just being a young woman in a new city, all of a sudden I had these new experiences to write about.”

In an interview with NPR, Laufey speaks on “balancing the two worlds” of older jazz listeners and younger audiences, paying homage to jazz greats Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald while “introducing something new.” 

Farewell: Tracks seven through nine – “California and Me,” “Nocturne (Interlude)” and “Promise

She bids a scenic, bittersweet farewell to an impassioned relationship, painting the classic California to New York backdrop for track seven. Similar to how the album began, she’s in a state of flux—thinking about the past while in a wholly different present. “Nocturne” serves as the album’s piano interlude and listening closely, one can distinguish the melodies of “Bewitched,” “California and Me” and other tracks on the album. “California and Me” adds the orchestral elegance of the LA Philharmonic and the dips and swells in the song, particularly the chorus, are truly wonderful.

Reprisal: Tracks 10 through 12 – “From the Start,” “Misty,” “Serendipity and the title track, “Bewitched

The album’s concluding tracks, most especially the last and title track “Bewitched,” explore love growing with time in “From the Start” and the overwhelming feeling of good luck in “Serendipity.” Social media took quite the liking for “From the Start” as it became popular on TikTok and Instagram prior to the album’s release. Lighthearted and grateful, the album draws to a close with a reminiscent pick-me-up.

Favorite track: Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self

From Laufey to herself in a recent Instagram post: “I tell her to continue forging her own path, chase her dreams and drown out the voices that tell her to conform. With this album, I feel I’ve done exactly that.” “Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self” is about realizing how far you’ve come from your childhood and doing the unexpected, growing out of your insecurities and following your passion. As a music lover, sentimentality isn’t interchangeable with any other aspect of a wonderful album—I’ve found this track to be extremely personal and like Laufey to her younger self, I too “wish I could go back and give [myself] a squeeze.”

Final thoughts

“Bewitched” was an exquisite showcase of lyrical excellence, orchestral magnificence and a graceful ode to both tradition and trend. Overall, a wonderful album with personal connections to love, loss, heartbreak and growth.

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About the Contributors
Lily Toreja, Writer
I sew, I love mochas and I would most likely die for you if we have a five-hour phone call.
Mi Nguyen, Illustrator
First-year illustrator. Self proclaimed connoisseur of late night reading.

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