Armed with a cello and the untethered voice of an angel, Icelandic Chinese singer-songwriter Laufey enthralled audiences at The Sinclair in Cambridge Tuesday night, with hits detailing bad dates, heartbreaks and lifelong friendships.
“Everything I Know About Love,” a jazz pop album with R&B influences, marks Laufey’s first headline tour and album, with nearly all shows — both in the United States and abroad — mostly selling out. Having gained popularity on TikTok with the song “Valentine,” the former Bostonian is quickly establishing herself as the jazz genre’s “it girl.”
As lights dimmed and the spotlight turned to her, Laufey took to the stage with the grace of a symphony orchestra. Accompanied by her drummer, Jackie — who she ensured to give a shoutout to multiple times — Laufey was able to cultivate an intimate singer-audience environment that felt like the meeting of old friends and the start of something new all at the same time.
Between a setlist with songs from her album, “Everything I Know About Love,” and her debut EP, “Typical of Me,” she made sure to connect with her Boston audience with conversation topics that ranged from the debate of naming her cello — a fan favorite — to what a singer was supposed to do when taking a water break.
A 2021 graduate from the Berklee College of Music, she was no stranger to both the streets and people of Boston — an added point of connection made clear by the raucous shouting in The Sinclair when Laufey reminisced, and even referred to a cello professor in attendance at the venue.
With that, it is fitting that her debut song, “Street by Street,” is her narration of reclaiming the city of Boston for herself in the wake of a painful breakup.
“I know that I’ll see you one day on the street with a girl on your arm,” Laufey sang, backed by a chorus of Bostonians. “But I won’t let that keep me from this town.”
As a singer-songwriter who just signed in April to AWAL Recordings alternate record studios, Laufey’s discography reads like the jazzified diary narrating the life of a woman who could be found in the melodies of an Audrey Hepburn movie — think “Roman Holiday.”
Not to fear, though. Laufey makes sure to remain multifaceted — like the rappers of old, she’s written her own self-proclaimed diss track. “James,” another song from her debut EP, “Typical of Me,” is a bonafide verbal dragging of the man who took her on the worst date she’s experienced. Although the song has all the makings of a love ballad at the beginning, between “my eyes rolled to the back of my head” and “his voice just became too sickening,” it is clear that James has long since overshot his chance.
As I listened to a particularly enthusiastic group of four beside me, I found myself brought back to my first encounter with Laufey — her opening act for Ricky Montgomery’s Chicago tour stop in 2021. I recall a text I sent out to a friend in which I said, only half-jokingly, that she may steal the show from him.
Now, nearly a year later, it is clear that Laufey is truly coming into her own as an artist. There still exists the elements that can draw you in for the first time, which I attribute to her self-understanding of her love for emulating classical and jazz music. It creates, for her, a niche that makes her stand out in today’s music world in a quiet yet profound way.
When I left The Sinclair and returned to the real world, I was left with the anticipation of what is yet to come from Laufey — and, as I eavesdropped on the group of four once again — I did wonder what Laufey would choose to name her cello.