Eszter Balint's Bar/None debut Mud falls partway between city and country, with Eszter’s cool-as-concrete vocals in striking contrast to an austere roots-rock sound redolent of dank swamps and remote juke joints. It’s artful and mysterious and it draws you in like a whispered conversation from across a dimly lit bar. Call it Americana-gone-bad; if Gilliam Welch were backed by, say, Arto Lindsay, it might sound something like this.
This is Eszter's second solo effort, although her songs, voice and violin playing have been featured in film soundtracks on other artists’ CDs for years. Her previous album Flicker, released in 2000 on the Scratchie label, was met with critical praise in the U.S. and abroad, as were her live performances. The New Yorker called Eszter ""a warm and expressive singer"" and the New York Times described her songs as ""funny, weird and wise."" Time Out New York declared that ""Balint has a presence all her own: stumbling upon one of her shows might be like finding a wonderful singer performing in a shack at the end of a dirt road.""
Mud has an organic feel compared than Flicker, which employed more studio technology. As Eszter explains, ""I wanted to take more of a live approach, work a little faster, get more of a band sound on tape. I’m always going to have sounds in my work that are weird or ugly, but I wanted them to come from the spirit of the playing rather than from pushing a button."" She likes to explore the dark back roads of country and blues, as well as rock, in her work: ""I have no agenda or interest in being confined to any specific type of music, but I often find myself drawn towards elements of country and the blues. There’s something in the sparseness and simplicity of those sounds that speaks to me. That music has a feeling of motion to it, like being on a train or driving from place to place. It has an openness, leaving plenty of room for individuality to come through.""
Reviews"Mud conjures rural calm as much as it does urban grit. Her songs are ominously spare in sound and lyrics, and firmly focused on Balint's placid, inviting voice." - Time Out New York