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La Santa Cecilia's new single "El Hielo" (ICE) is cool take on immigration law

March 05, 2013|By Reed Johnson
  • La Santa Cecilia.
La Santa Cecilia. (Universal Music Latino )

You might not suspect from its lovely, breathy lead vocal and deceptively languid, vaguely bossa nova lilt that La Santa Cecilia's latest single, "El Hielo" (ICE) is actually a fiery protest anthem.

But this elegant, effortlessly cool track from the L.A. quartet, who recently switched record labels, does indeed take a subtle whack at ICE -- otherwise known as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- and Uncle Sam's immigration policy in general.

But the Spanish-language track's main mission is to express empathy for Latin American immigrants, including those who were brought as children by their parents to the United States and must live a shadowy existence as second-class citizens in constant fear of deportation.

Led by the bluesy diva La Marisoul, the Los Angeles band, which takes its name from the patron saint of music, blends mariachi trumpets and Stax-style horns, cumbia, funk, punk, samba, son jarocho and klezmer into shiny aural collages.

The new song sketches the tales of three immigrants: Eva, a housekeeper; Jose, a gardener, who can make a yard "look like Disneyland" but "drives an old truck without a license"; and Martha, who "arrived as a child and dreams of going to school/But it’s hard for her without proper documentation."

La Marisoul says that the character of Eva is, in fact, inspired by her own mother, named Eva -- who, yes, makes her living as a housekeeper.

That sets up the chorus to leave listeners with a chill:

ICE is on the loose out on the streets

You never know when your number’s up

Cry, Children cry when they get out

They cry when mom’s not coming to pick them up

Some of us stay here

The others stay there

That happens for going out to make a living

La Santa Cecilia will perform Thursday at the Fonda theater with Astro, Carla Morrison and Bomba Estereo.

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