Night Drifter: “Broken English” (Marianne Faithfull Cover) is compelling!

Night Drifter is the Dark Pop project showcasing the collaboration between the Dutch artist Liis Van Den Akker, and the Swedish Producer Daniel Watson who are crafting an album to be released during 2018. Liis has worked with acts like Psy’Aviah, SD-KRTR, Misery and others, while Daniel has worked with many different projects, including Samsaeri, Dr. Shinto, Sonar Eclipse, and many more. Night Drifter has just released the single, and supporting video for their version of the song “Broken English”.

This is a cover of the Marianne Faithful classic, first released in 1979. According to one of the song’s co-writers, Barry Reynolds, Marianne was reading a lot about the Baader-Meinhof Gang at the time, so she wrote the lyrics about them, and the opening verse clearly alludes to that: “Could have come through anytime / Cold lonely, your return / What are you fighting for? / It’s not my security.”

At the time of Broken English’s original production, Faithfull had nothing left to lose. The time leading up to Broken English was somewhat traumatic for her. She lost custody of her son to her ex-husband, split with Mick Jagger, attempted suicide, lapsed into heroin addiction, and spent two years living rough on the streets of Soho. And, like so much art made under similar circumstances, it’s an absolute tour de force. The track is tinged with raw emotions, fatalism and graphic linguistic truths.

As we now celebrate the track’s almost 40th anniversary, let’s not forget the significance of such musical fire from a solo woman artist, in a year when the UK’s top album releases were dominated by the likes of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ and AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’.

Slot ‘Broken English’ into context and its significance is unquestionable. Faithfull’s low tones and cracked vocals marbled by years of abuse, made this record a revolutionary moment, not just for her but for future female artists.

Now one of that future female artist’s, is none other than Night Drifter’s Liis Van Den Akker. Together with Daniel Watson she creates a personal and dark record that borrows musically from across the sounds of the time and puts it onto the context of modern electronics.

Rolling drums in the background sustain the thickly rumbling basslines and subtle keyboard interludes, as Liis quietly, but steadily breaks through the opening verse, and gathers harmonic momentum for the layered chorus:  “It’s just an old war / Not even a cold war / Don’t say it in Russian / Don’t say it in German / Say it in broken English / Say it in broken English.”

It’s urgent, unrelenting and compelling, a little weird, and utterly at odds with anything on the Pop or EDM charts right now…which is what makes it so refreshing to listen to.


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