By Leah Greenblatt
Updated August 31, 2007 04:00 AM

In the modern hierarchy of Dylan/Springsteen acolytes, 30-year-old Josh Ritter stands surprisingly tall. The Idaho native has made an almost stealthy ascent, releasing several fine folk-pop CDs over the past five years. His latest, The Historical Conquests of…, a sprawling diorama of down-home rhythms and thoughtful lyrics, isn’t immediately striking. But there’s a joy in unfurling the half-submerged melodies and wry, tender sentiments — from the sadness of ”The Temptation of Adam” to the roadhouse glee of ”Real Long Distance.” A-

Download This: Hear a 45-second clip of ”Empty Hearts” at