Laufey: Five Essential Albums

Laufey (photo by Blythe Thomas, PR)
by Kara Manning | 03/08/2022 | 12:00am

Laufey (photo by Blythe Thomas, PR)

As WFUV honors Women's History Month, we're also heralding a handful of "Ascending Women" musicians who are making their own history with outstanding new music. Some are making comebacks; others are at the very start of their careers. We've asked these artists to write about the "Five Essential Albums" that shaped their own path.

The languid, jazzy songs of 22-year-old Icelandic-Chinese multi-instrumentalist Laufey might have a vintage vibe, but her lyrics dissect Gen Z relationships and anxiety with acerbic wit. On Laufey's most recent single, "Valentine," she muses on a nascent love affair, not totally sold on romance: "Maybe I should run," she ruminates, "I‘m only twenty-one. I don‘t even know who I want to become."

It's fairly clear, though, that Laufey, real name Laufey Lin Jónsdottir, knows exactly who she wants to become.  Raised in a musical family — her mother is a violinist and her grandparents are music professors — she fell in love with the songs of Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker early in life, thanks to her father's extensive jazz record collection, and taught herself jazz piano. (Her twin sister, Junia, is also a violinist.)

When she was just 15, Laufey debuted as a cellist with Iceland Symphony Orchestra and around that same age, she made it to the finals of "Iceland's Got Talent" and the semifinals of Iceland's version of "The Voice."  Laufey, who grew up between Reykjavík and Washington D.C., also studied at the Reykjavík College of Music and Boston's Berklee College of Music; it was while still a student in the States that she released her first single, "Street by Street" in the spring of 2020 on a lark.

She graduated early, and released her debut EP Typical Of Me in the spring by 2021. That EP sprawls from a sisterly song for Junia, "Best Friend" ("But I promise that I love you/Even with that hairdo/I'm sorry I made fun of it/It's not your fault it looks like s**t"), to warmly crooned ballads, one of which, "Like the Movies," she also performed when making her U.S. television debut on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in January 2022. Her voice settles to a lower register, not unlike a cello, and her delivery is conversational; there's an amiable intimacy to all of Laufey's songs.

Laufey, who is based in Los Angeles right now, will release her debut album later in 2022 with tour dates ahead too. Her "Five Essential Albums" for FUV lean to selections that are rich with storytelling and distinctive vocal stylings — not unlike Laufey's own songs.

Laufey: Five Essential Albums:

Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen To You
This is my favorite album of all time. The arrangements of standards on this album are so genuine! Chet approaches singing like a trumpet player, which results in the most beautiful vocal tone.

Stan Getz and João Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto
I always listen to this album in its entirety from start to finish. It’s an instant mood booster and the best introduction to bossa nova for anyone!

Carole King, Tapestry
Tapestry is storytelling at its best. Her songwriting is so vivid; every song is like a little movie scene in my head.

Norah Jones, Come Away With Me
Norah Jones is truly one of my biggest idols. Come Away With Me was the first time I heard jazz mixed in with folk and pop, which has been hugely inspiring in my own music.

Emily King, The Switch 
Emily packs so many different sounds such as choirs, strings, and harmonies into one album  — it’s the most magical listening experience! Emily’s soulful voice and writing is unmatched.

- Laufey Lin Jónsdottir
March 2022

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