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Mud
     

Mud

by Eszter Balint
 
A lot of cabaret singers channel the sound of Kurt Weill, but few bother to give his elegantly wasted spirit the kind of stylistic facelift needed to make waves in the new millennium. This Hungarian-born singer-songwriter -- perhaps best known for playing the lead female role in Jim Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise -- does just that on Mud, her

Overview

A lot of cabaret singers channel the sound of Kurt Weill, but few bother to give his elegantly wasted spirit the kind of stylistic facelift needed to make waves in the new millennium. This Hungarian-born singer-songwriter -- perhaps best known for playing the lead female role in Jim Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise -- does just that on Mud, her long-awaited second album. Balint possesses a lived-in sort of voice, one that can recall Marianne Faithfull, as on the Brazilian-tinged "No One," or Polly Harvey, as on the careening "This Lie." Her band, anchored by guitarist Chris Cochrane (a veteran of such avant-rock combos as No Safety and Curlew), burns on a low blue flame for most of Mud, hitting on a quirky-yet-earthy sound reminiscent of Tom Waits at his most dissolute. They do put the pedal to the metal now and then, however, most notably on the raunchy, sturm-und-twang riff-fest "Your God." Balint adapts masterfully to every change of tenor, waxing alternately wan and wild, giving the impression that she's capable of going off the rails at any moment -- and just as capable of righting herself for a graceful exit on cue.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Five years after her musical debut , Hungarian-born former actress Eszter Balint (remember Eva from Stranger Than Paradise?) delves deeper into her primal nightmare blend of roots rock, blues, and angular swamp funk, and comes up with Mud. Produced by J.D. Foster, the set features Balint on vocals and guitar aided by downtown improvising axeman Chris Cochrane on guitars, bassist Mike DuClos, and drummers Phil Hernandez and Nic Brown, the album is a teeter-totter of tension, and slack yet compelling rhythms and quirky melodies. Balint's songwriting style descends from Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams, but is far from anchored in those boggy moors. She's heard all of the alt-country records, the jagged edges of 1980s downtown New York no wave, and the hollow dynamics of post-Nirvana indie rock -- and she's found them all wanting. Her closest peers are, perhaps, Joe Henry -- as evidenced by his last three records -- the Marianne Faithfull of Broken English, and the Los Lobos of Kiko. This is a different kind of Americana, one observed and fought with by an immigrant who comes filtered through the smashed Hollywood dream, the romanced view of a country that has long-since disappeared into Greil Marcus' "Old Weird America," and a present New York full of ghosts, loose-wire energy, and the wish for a clean, emotional break with the past. Balint's songs, whether they be engaging, bossa-flavored love dislocation anthems such as "No One," the shambolic rock & roll of "This Lie," the wah-wah and funk paces of the teetering-on-the-brink-of-disappearance soul-blues of "Here We Are," or the minor-key Link Wray choogle of "Your God," Balint and her band get the job done. They show up, turn it up, and let fly with a collection of songs that balances nuance, grace, toughness, and a cool reportorial cynicism with the many faces of rock in the 21st century. Most of this sounds live, there are few keyboards layered in the mix and it all throbs with a kind of languorous tension that makes it shabbily elegant and rustically beautiful.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/09/2004
Label:
Bar/None Records
UPC:
0032862015229
catalogNumber:
152

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Eszter Balint   Primary Artist,Guitar,Mandolin,Piano,Violin,Glockenspiel,Vocals,Vibes,fender rhodes,Casio,Guitar (Nylon String),Guitar (Tremolo)
Michael Weiss   Piano
Vincent Chancey   French Horn
Chris Cochrane   Guitar,Slide Guitar,Sounds,Soloist
Phil Hernandez   Drums
Steve Blucher   Pedal Steel Guitar
Chris Maxwell   Guitar,Electric Guitar,Keyboards
Nic Brown   Drums
J.A. Foster   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass,Percussion,Piano,Vibes,Casio

Technical Credits

Michael Weiss   Piano Arrangement
J.D. Foster   Producer
Sebastian Steinberg   Composer
Andy Taub   Engineer
Janene Higgins   Cover Design
Eszter Balint   Composer,Engineer
J.A. Foster   Producer,Engineer

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