Jack Manley Reveals the Heart-wrenching Course of His Healing Journey in “Save Your Own”

Building yourself back up from a broken place is a crucial and universal part of being human. Though we experience our lowest points in a myriad of ways, determined by an array of circumstances, a unification occurs in understanding that we can materialize a positive future through expression, connection, and creation. Art is often an integral part of recovery, whether you’ve lost a loved one, or a part of yourself. For singer-songwriter Jack Manley, music has been essential to the restructuring of his life after two near-fatal overdoses. His latest single “Save Your Own,” appearing on his new EP “Unmeasurable Terms” details a specific and illuminating concept that is present during the recovery process; centering your wellness while acknowledging the pain of others. Manley balances these ideas with unapologetic candor, crafting a track that describes a potent struggle that so many face despite its stigmatism in our culture. It’s this honesty and acceptance of his faults during this dark period that cements Manley as a relatable and honorable musician and showcases that healing can solidify a new era in your life. 

Credit: Jack Manley


Q. You’ve just released your third single off your upcoming EP “Unmeasurable Terms.” Can you share some parallels and incongruities between these songs being that they all come from a similar place of inspiration?

A. All the songs on the EP were written on a four-string broken guitar that I found while in the hospital receiving treatment after a near-fatal overdose. I was limited by the number of strings on the guitar and so wrote in a specific position which gives all the songs a through-line sonically and thematically. Each song came at a specific moment of overwhelm or processing which resulted in an outpouring of lyrical content. As the days and weeks went by, more songs came. By bringing the compositions into a band dynamic once I was home, they’ve been further realized as distinct pieces and statements. Each song has its own distinct mood:  “Save Your Own” has a bombastic bass line and has a lot of energy and some anger to it, while “Smack Water” is more low-key and surrealist. “Tightrope Life” is a mournful plea, with dizzying sounds that match the dizzying feeling of realizing I’ve reached my limit. “Unmeasurable Terms”, while presented as a love song, is a reflection on my past friendships within my former band, Cosmonaut. 


Q. Your latest single “Save Your Own” contains a necessary message about prioritizing your own well-being despite the pressure to constantly put others before you. What does this topic mean to you personally?

A. It’s something I struggle greatly with. I guess in some ways I’m constantly trying to remind myself that I’m only useful to others when I’m taking care of myself and that means taking care of myself first. It feels and sounds counterintuitive but it’s really the only way to live if you’re trying to hold space for others in a positive way. 

The song was also written as a message to my partner Anna that however hard it is to watch me fall apart, really the best thing she can do is take care of herself, even if she might want to try to save me. It’s the healthiest thing for both of us. She did quite literally save my life when I overdosed. 


Q. You’re choosing to have “Save Your Own” as the first track on “Unmeasurable Terms.” What does this positioning say about the song and the EP as a whole?

A. Sonically, it serves as an introduction to the various sounds that will be heard throughout the EP. It also sort of establishes a foundation of concepts and content, i.e. my inner battle for a sense of self-worth, my guilt, shame, and remorse for my actions, and my amazement that I was still loved and cared for despite it all. 


Q. During the production of “Save Your Own,” you recorded the vocals and guitar together in one live take which diverges from traditional recording strategies. What influenced this choice?

A. This wasn’t exactly the plan, it just worked out that way. I tracked everything live with Sean Paul Pillsworth and he just has a way of making me really comfortable and confident so when we went back and heard the scratch live takes we realized we had already gotten what we needed for the song. I did go back and try to overdub the vocals but felt that they lacked the power and sincerity that the live “rough” takes had—they’re raw and imperfect and messy, and so am I. 


Q. You said “Save Your Own” is “an honest appraisal and a lovesick plea,” detailing confessions of mistreatment of loved ones during your struggle with addiction. Talk about the power of this vulnerability.

A. It felt necessary to remark clearly and directly on the situation which is “countless reasons to go, I may never know, why I continue to hurt you.” For me, and for my partner, it felt important to recognize that reality. Stating that truth felt like a crucial step in re-establishing trust and rebuilding the foundation of our relationship. 


Q. The rest of “Unmeasurable Terms” is sure to tackle more complex themes of addiction and recovery. What are other important messages you’re hoping to discuss with this EP?

A. That failure is a part of life. And recovery from it is possible, however brutal it might be. That no one is coming to save you. There are people who may help along the way, but you are responsible for making the first step. 


Q. Though music is an extremely expressive outlet it can be difficult to share such personal parts of one’s life. How do you stay committed to honesty and openness in your songs?

A. I typically write in bursts of creative outpouring. I let my subconscious guide the writing process, and I try my best to stay out of the way and only edit when needed. For the most part, ideas and concepts, lyrical and otherwise, flow out of me, and I do my best to capture them as they are. Usually, this happens in the form of a voice memo on my iPhone which I then revisit. I’m often surprised by the insight I gain by listening back to my own lyrics. It’s as if they arrive fully realized from a place of deeper understanding.