Another peek into Chicano Batman‘s recording sessions at Diamond Mine Studios is out: this time, we’re getting a live rendition of “Angel Child,” another number from the forthcoming LP Freedom is Free. As that March 3 release approaches, the clip makes clearer that this third album is their most soulful offering to date.
A week ago, the L.A. band penned a biting letter to Trump comparing him to crystal meth that directly related his influence to the terrorist who attacked a mosque in Quebec last month, taking the lives of six people during evening prayer. The images in that prose are our disturbing reality, and the piece offers more than a few explicit condemnations of a disgusting, hateful administration. Consider that the call to action; Freedom is Free, then, is what centers and fortifies us to fight.
Watching “Angel Child” live, there’s a striking musicality — it’s dynamic, but flawlessly delivered. On piano, there’s Leon Michels, one of the studio’s owners and a well-known staple of the New York soul revival scene (He’s worked with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, backed Charles Bradley in the Menahan Street Band, now El Michels Affair, which serves as the Diamond Mine house band). The three vocalists on deck — Nya Brown, Piya Malik and Kate Mattison, known as 79.5 — are also prominent in that scene, and are on the roster of Big Crown Records, co-owned by Michels.
Brazilian Tropicalía and psych still figure heavily for Chicano Batman, but working with Michels and company seems to have drawn the funk and soul they’ve always carried to the absolute surface. And on “Angel Child,” that collaboration brings the song’s innately warm textures to life. It’s a spiritual boost; Eduardo Arenas could have written it for anyone, but watching the homage unfurl in a live session makes it feel intimate and personal, like we’re all angel children, all of us wild and free.