Mud is the sound of a skeevy goth girl appropriating the house band of a Texan roadhouse and laying out her dark musings and angular atmospherics. The album opens with “Pebbles & Stones,” the closest to traditional country the album gets. Mandolins and banjos provide a loosely plunked backdrop for intermittent guitar squalls. The Blooze starts to go into effect on “Here We Are,” a fine, loping and spacious dirge complete with one of the most punishing and perfectly recorded bass lines I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, this steady beat isn’t easily shaken, and it drags the middle of the album down into nondescript “rural contemporary” territory. Occasional cloudy keyboard riffs keep things from getting terribly monotonous, but it isn’t until the jazzy acoustic guitar/french horn combo of “No One” that it’s worth paying attention again. The only true gothic ode, “Your God,” pops up near the album’s close. Its scummy and gritty guitar shuffle is a perfect palette for Balint to deliver her hell-bound lines, “Your god is sick, your god’s a joke / the lovely tales and songs a pile of shit.”
This is the kind of project that I admire in concept, but in actual delivery I’m not completely won over. There are some excellent songs on here, but the weak numbers easily outnumber the strong. Balint’s lack of innovation leads her to a rehashing, and ultimately, a diluting of her good ideas. Giving her the benefit of the doubt isn’t hard though. She’s already found a way to successfully marry goth and country. I imagine by her next release she’ll be able to weed out the inbred tracks long before they have a chance to mar her album.