Laufey tells us everything she knows about love

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Laufey brought her jazzy album to life at The End.

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Sara West

Laufey singing and playing the electric guitar, as photographed on Sept. 21, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West)

Emma Chang

I first discovered Laufey during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, after stumbling upon her cover of “Fly Me to the Moon” while mindlessly scrolling through Youtube Shorts. Ever since, the combination of Laufey’s trademark deep voice and mastery of the cello, piano and guitar has drawn me into her music. That year, Laufey also released her debut single “Street by Street” which quickly gained online traction as she rose to popularity.

As I stepped into the stuffy, dimly-lit venue of The End and noticed the mounting enthusiasm of the audience crowded around the stage, I knew I was in for a great concert experience. Laufey incorporates her technical skill as both a jazz and classical musician, as well as elements of her Icelandic-Chinese heritage into her songs to create a distinct musical identity. Laufey released her debut album “Everything I Know About Love ” in June 2022, and I could not wait to hear it live.

The concert began with UK artist Matilda Mann, who was decked out in the most adorable cherry earrings and hair ribbons. I wasn’t very familiar with most of her songs, but after her performance, I added many of her songs to my Liked Songs on Spotify. Some of my favorites were her opener, “Japan”, and “Paper Mache World.” Mann’s indie music was catchy in its simplistic, yet charming nature. 

When Laufey stepped onto the stage, with hair ribbons matching Mann’s, the audience collectively lost their minds. Though there were a few technical errors with the mic and earpieces in the beginning, Laufey handled it all like a pro and was able to perform her first song “Fragile” with only her guitar and no backing instrumentals or tracks. The solo performance made the beginning of Laufey’s performance more intimate, highlighting her calm demeanor and light-hearted stage presence.

The venue ambience through the lens of a fan’s recording phone screen, as photographed on Sept. 21, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West)
The venue ambience through the lens of a fan’s recording phone screen, as photographed on Sept. 21, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West)
(Sara West )

In her song “Like the Movies,” Laufey had quite a few things to say about holding out for a fairytale romance to all the fellow hopeless romantics in the crowd. With mellow jazz trumpets and slow-paced piano chords accompanying the melodic line, this song sounds like something straight out of a sappy ‘90s rom-com. Star gazing? Listen to the bluebirds sigh? Dancing under stormy skies? Laufey calls out the archetypal media scenes that set such an unrealistic standard for love these days, but it doesn’t stop any of us from being suckers for these cute tropes.

The album as a whole oscillates between themes of yearning for a love that is just out of reach and finding love in unexpected, yet natural turns of events. Towards the end of the show, fan favorites like “Best Friend” and “Valentine” detailed Laufey’s own experiences falling in love with her best friend and her navigation through a not exactly movie-like, but just as endearing relationship.

Laufey not only tells us everything she knows about romantic love, she shares with us her love of music. She interweaves her signature style into any song she sings, and her passion for the art form is contagious through the enthusiastic audience engagement. The swinging syncopation of the piano, coupled with jazzy vocals, had the entire venue singing and cheering along. A girl handed Laufey a handmade “Valentine” bracelet, which Laufey enthusiastically accepted and wore for the rest of her time on stage. She even stopped her program so that we could all sing “Happy Birthday” to a few people in the crowd. That night,  I realized that Laufey was not only a phenomenal artist but also a role model that appreciates every one of her fans and builds a supportive community of musicians and non-musicians alike.

Upon the completion of her last song, Laufey had a parting surprise announcement for us—her new EP, titled “The Reykjavík Sessions”–was to be released on Sep. 22. This album is beautiful in its acoustic simplicity, featuring Laufey playing one instrument and her solo vocals. Give it a listen—as sweater weather approaches, this album is the embodiment of chicken noodle soup for the soul.