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ARTIST PROFILE | Satsang
“Montana isn’t just where I live,” says Satsang’s Drew McManus. “It’s my heart and soul.”
On ‘All. Right. Now.,’ Satsang’s extraordinary new album and debut release for venerated indie label SideOneDummy, it’s also his muse. Written and recorded during an extended hiatus from the road, the record finds McManus reconnecting with his Montana roots and exploring a whole new palette of sounds and textures, drawing on classic country and modern Americana to forge a joyful, rustic collection all about letting go and living in the moment. McManus produced the album himself, and while the songs here are certainly honest and deeply personal, they’re written in a spiritual language that taps into something far more universal, something inherent in the human condition that binds us as brothers and sisters on a shared journey to find ourselves and our place in this world. The performances and arrangements are broad and spacious to match, reflecting the wide-open fields and soaring mountains that surrounded the band during the whirlwind recording process, and the result is a lush, organic collection fueled by acoustic guitars, fiddle, and pedal steel, a warm, inviting record that hints at everything from Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks to Gregory Alan Isakov and The Head and the Heart as it meditates on the power—and the pull—of home.
Though McManus was born in Montana, he actually spent much of his formative years in Des Moines and Chicago. His childhood was troubled, to say the least, marked by physical abuse at home and a nose for trouble that surrounded him, and by his late teens, he was struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. After returning to Montana for rehab, he got clean and sober, married the woman of his dreams, and launched Satsang with ‘The Story Of You,’ the band’s breakout 2016 debut. Steeped in reggae, hip-hop, and world music, the album was an uplifting affirmation that connected with fans around the globe, racking up roughly 15 millions streams on Spotify alone. McManus and his bandmates returned a year later with their similarly successful sophomore effort, ‘Pyramid(s),’ which hit #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart and #2 on iTunes, and pushed their sound even further with 2019’s ‘Kulture,’ which incorporated a wider swath of influences from Motown to Tom Petty. Relentless road warriors, the group built a devoted following one night at a time, sharing stages with the likes of Michael Franti & Spearhead and Nahko and Medicine for the People as they worked their way up from bars and clubs to massive festivals.
“When you’re dealt a tough hand, you can either get bitter or you can get better,” says McManus. “You can blame your upbringing for everything and complain about what happened to you, or you can choose to believe that everything happened for you, to step into your power and become the person you want to be.”
In Montana, that’s precisely what McManus has done, turning his dreams into reality in a place that, some days, feels more like Heaven than Earth.
“My wife, my kids, Montana, they’re all one thing to me now,” says McManus. “They’re home.”