Like the ends of good stories, the changes in the best pop songs are both surprising and inevitable. Over the too-short half-hour of The Actor, Evan Saathoff's first fullish-length release, we're treated to songs that lift to stirring bridges and choruses that we'd never have predicted. But we know in our guts that they could only have gone this way, far from the shambling obscurities we've come to expect from today's indie folk. The Actor is packed with highlights: the soaring melancholia of the title track, the cyclical chants and lullaby tinkling of "War," the shaky whistling on "Best Shirt." A couple of songs rock; a couple of sweet ones surely get him laid. They're all polished and intelligent, harking back not to mopes like Nick Drake but to pop-craftsmen like Harry Nilsson and even, in places, to what sounds like old English folk ballads. But not in a nerdy way, we swear. More, please.