Laufey – ‘Everything I Know About Love’ review: an ode to the magic of life’s little moments

The LA-based Icelandic-Chinese artist infuses jazz tradition with modern intuition on her debut album

Laufey’s music often romanticises life’s little moments. Building whimsical orchestral arrangements around these fleeting snapshots – the glow of a candle, the butter on your toast, the shape of a tall tree against the sky – she weaves this spellbinding soundscape with the tradition of 20th century jazz to create a fabric of modern, everyday life.

The place where unexpected influences intertwine is Laufey’s playground. The classically trained 23-year-old musician, who grew up between Reykjavík and Washington D.C. with Icelandic and Chinese parents, fell in love with the freewheeling jazz legends who populated her father’s record collection. It’s this influence that perhaps explains why her songs deliciously defy categorisation: flung out of history yet grounded in present-day honesty, she plays in many sonic worlds that all find a connection through her. Others have connected, too: her song ‘Valentine’ recently charted as Spotify’s Number One jazz song on the platform, beyond a sizeable TikTok audience.

If her 2021 EP ‘Typical Of Me’ evoked blushful nostalgia, then ‘Everything I Know About Love’ adds a deeper sense of reflection to the emotional palette. With velvet-smooth harmonies, swelling string sections and the faintest crackle of an old jazz record, the album plays out like a meandering storybook; each song a little glowing orb of magic.

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‘Above The Chinese Restaurant’ takes us on an enchanting journey through Laufey’s memories, from sharing dumplings to hearing her neighbours snoring next door. In reminiscing, she finally realises: “Wish I’d known I had all I could want / In our tiny apartment above the Chinese restaurant.”

What stands out most here is Laufey’s vocal register – her voice is deep and full-bodied, providing a perfect vehicle for the open-hearted sincerity of these songs. She sings with the warm storytelling tone of the jazz greats (Ella Fitzgerald is her all-time favourite), making sadder, personal songs like ‘Night Light’ all the more special and intimate.

The vocals and instrumentation help the album ultimately overcome its few shortcomings, such as its occasionally unwieldy lyrics (“I’m scared of flies / I’m scared of guys” is one such culprit on ‘Valentine’). Yet the lyrics also give us one of ‘Everything I Know About Love’’s primary delights: Laufey’s candid self-expression wrapped in the dreamy lilt of the old jazz standards. It feels like you’re in a time warp when you hear the cinematic orchestral arrangement of ‘Beautiful Stranger’ being punctuated by the lyric: “I tend to fall in love on the tube… What if I hadn’t left the train at Ladbroke Grove?” By playing on contrasts like these, Laufey continues to bridge histories and genres within music with ease.

Details

Laufey - Everything I Know About Love [album] - artwork (1) (1)

Release date: August 26

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Record label: AWAL Recordings

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