Trails is Allie O’Manique, a master of languid melancholia at just 19 years old. She grew up outside of Ottawa, on the Rideau River, and her music feels like a search back to those more peaceful, nature-bound times.
Trails songs are profoundly intimate, often written and recorded not just from bedrooms but from beds, in the aftermath of something not so good. Her dusky alto simultaneously holds the darkness of a survivor and the promise of brighter days to come.
“I have trauma from sexual violence,” she says. “Over the years I’ve become more and more comfortable singing about those experiences because sex and intimacy is something I’m trying to turn back into a beautiful thing again. And I really have.”
Trails’ forthcoming EP stands out in her discography for its boldness. Gone are the scratchy lo-fi production values, aching hurt and small songs. In their place is astonishingly intelligent psych-pop verging on lush (think Weyes Blood, Sharon Van Etten, Charlotte Gainsbourg), though with slow-pitched, trasheteria oddities (think Tom Waits, Portishead, art-school kids in extra-long sleeves with tattered cuffs) almost imperceptibly offsetting all of the hazy beauty.
Two things haven’t changed. O’Manique’s formidable voice – full of gentle warmth and capable of pulling off the highest highs and the lowest lows – still holds centre court. And a flashback quality remains in the songs – she’s still processing the past – though tracks shimmer with, and seem informed by, a burgeoning mysticism.
Trails has arrived in the present, at adulthood, armed with a growing command of her significant powers and all the places they will take her.