Regina Spektor 

Far

Regina Spektor is one of those rare singer-songwriters who simultaneously challenges and exemplifies the definitions of both "singer" and "songwriter." Most of Spektor's songs are stories, and the language she uses to tell those stories is always acrobatic. It's as if Nabokov wrote pop songs. (Spektor learned English as a second language, after Russian.)

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Spektor's compositions are equally accomplished, playful and subversive. Like Bjö�rk or Cat Power, she can contort her beautiful voice in ways that confer an additional layer of meaning to lyrics that already fascinate. All this and she still manages to write catchy tunes, whether jazzy and loose in the mode of Ricky Lee Jones, or tight and springy like her hit "Fidelity," from the 2006 album Begin to Hope.

To use a word critics employ when their subjects get easier to pin down, Far is a more mature album than Hope was. The sound is more consistent, more accessible and a bit more traditional, but Spektor has lost none of her clever punch. Far may be the album that solidifies Spektor's reputation as the author of truly great, affecting songs, including "Blue Lips," "Laughing With" and "Genius Next Door."

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