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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Laufey pays homage to a lost jazz era

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NPR.com
In Laufey’s sophomore album, “Bewitched,” she delivers an homage to a past era of jazz.

On Sept. 8, Icelandic Chinese jazz singer, composer and musician Laufey released her second official album, “Bewitched.” With over 5.7 million streams within its first day, she broke the all-time record as the biggest debut for a jazz album on Spotify. 

Born in Iceland in 1999, music has always been in her life. Versed in the piano, guitar, and cello, she graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2021 and has been releasing original music since her debut single “Street by Street” in 2020. Laufey takes inspiration from jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and while she has her own unique style, she has certainly achieved her goal of re-introducing authentic jazz to younger generations.

While her first album, “Everything I Know About Love,” released in 2022, revolved around the concept of never having fallen in love before, “Bewitched” transitions into a story of exploring new romance and exploring the naive emotions that come with first love, from sorrow feelings of bewilderment to being completely entranced by someone. The 14-track album, with song titles reflecting autumn terms, such as “Nocturne,” “Haunted” and “Misty,” explores an old, almost cinematic jazz style. 

She teased the album’s release for weeks, uploading a crossword puzzle with the song titles for her fanbase — which she calls Lauvers — to decode, and putting out the vocal and piano sheet music for Lauvers to sing, play and remix.

The first track, “Dreamer,” begins with an old-Hollywood tune, the line “let me be your dreamer/ let me float/ I can see the whole world/ from my own little cloud/ up by the Milky Way” is the perfect interlude transition that you would hear in a stage musical. Her deep, Frank Sinatra-esque voice crescendos with the lyrics “no boys going/ to kill the dreamer in me,” sounding as if it would pair perfectly with the finale of a play. 

“Nocturne,” the eighth track, is a lyricless interlude, a wonderful transition into the album’s second act. The keys get heavier and deeper as the song progresses then ends with arpeggios up and down the keys. Melancholic and nostalgic, this beautiful song has a different vibe from the rest of the album. 

All of the songs from “Bewitched” are absolutely beautiful, as Laufey explores different styles of traditional jazz. Inspired by American jazz trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, she included scats in “From the Start,” explaining that she wanted to bring it back to this generation. She certainly achieved it, as the song has blown up on social media, with over 100 million streams on Spotify. Comforting and relatable, the album overflows with Laufey’s raw emotions. With odes to jazz melodies, her songs are versatile, as if they could be played in an underground jazz club or an outdoor café. 

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About the Contributor
Skye Freeman
Skye Freeman, Audience Engagement Manager
Skye Freeman is a member of the Class of 2025 and is an audience engagement manager. She joined the journalism team during the 2022-23 school year when she was a sophomore. Her favorite piece she has written for the Midway is her story on the U-High drama teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Ambrosini: “Love that Lasts: U-High theater teachers married for over 50 years flawlessly execute show after show.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing Badminton and is vice president of the Students with Disabilities Association and of the Junior States of America club.

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