Rising from tiny Manhattan clubs where aspiring singer/ songwriters refused to drink folk-music syrup, Regina Spektor found her voice as a compelling and whimsical storyteller who uses experience and observation to craft indelible songs. With her third Sire album, the deliciously attractive "Far," Spektor again shows how original she is, finding the gleam in modern life with its contradictions and confusion in a uniquely colloquial manner. Her pop-perfect piano chops are informed by classical music and her voice teems with mirthful idiosyncrasy-floating, firm and full of surprising loops and whoops. On "Far" ballads turn into dances and carny-like beats bounce. Lyrically the album is a collection of songs about youthful dreams (the bright beach tune "The Folding Chair" skips with desire), concerns about the mechanized future (enslaved in assembly lines in "Blue Lips," being "downloaded daily" on the subtly turbulent "Machine") and sweet hope (the happy-go-lucky "One More Time With Feeling").