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Album Review

Actor’s music debut a long time coming

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / July 19, 2011

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Add Tim Robbins to the ever-growing list of actors who have decided to try their hand at becoming recording artists.

There is some precedent for the star of such films as “Bull Durham,’’ “The Shawshank Redemption,’’ and “Mystic River.’’ In addition to music running in the family - dad Gil was a member of the Highwaymen - the Oscar winner has previously penned and performed music for his own films, including “Bob Roberts’’ and “Cradle Will Rock.’’ He also did some live dates as part of the “Vote for Change’’ tour in 2004 with musicians such as Pearl Jam.

Working from a songbook he’s been crafting over many years, Robbins wears his influences with pride. You can hear echoes of a Dylan-esque rasp in his voice on “You’re My Dare,’’ a Springsteen-style folk-rocker replete with hurdy-gurdy, accordion, and mandolin. Leonard Cohen is the spectral presence haunting the lovely, languorous closer, “Lightning Calls.’’

Robbins proves himself a strong, visual lyricist painting his best portrait on the frantic, frayed-edge rocker “Time to Kill,’’ a greasy dobro sliding all over it like the blood dripping on the memories of the song’s war veteran who cannot adjust to life at home.

Wisely, Robbins surrounds himself with first-class pros, including producer Hal Willner, who lends the project, mostly cut live, a spare immediacy. (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “Time to Kill’’