Somewhere on California’s Highway 99, a young singer opens her iPhone’s voice memo app and starts recording new ideas for an album.

The result is a collection of heart-on-sleeve stories that’ll become letters from the 99, the debut album of indie-pop artist PKAY.

PKAY started writing her own music after a breakup when she was eighteen.

Since then, she’s been pouring out her emotions, transforming them into raw stories we can all empathize with – combining a feeling of vulnerability with the vibrant energy of modern alt-pop. In her single “pls call me”, PKAY tells us a story about a love that ended but left something unfinished within her.

It’s not a sad or angry breakup song; it’s more of a nostalgic and mournful one:

In the end, it was my decision to leave”

PKAY sings in the chorus, transmitting an aching, longing feeling to the listener.

Here’s the thing: From the first line of “pls call me”, you know what’s coming.

Anyone who’s ever experienced an unsuccessful relationship knows how it feels – often, it’s a familiar path, one that carries a feeling of inevitability almost from the beginning. But it’s the way that PKAY narrates her story that makes it feel so real. There’s longing here, but there’s also a sense of maturity that makes the listener empathize with the artist as she is now – a person who’s longing and looking back.

Sonically, the track is a soft, piano ballad, with melodic lines that seem to call on folklore-era Taylor Swift. It’s a percussion-free song, though its innate rhythm and PKAY’s dynamic voice are enough to create a haunting atmosphere that pushes the music forward.

The ending line, “If you hear this, please call me”, is a powerful conclusion; it’s almost like you’re really on the other side of the line, listening to PKAY’s voice message.

And maybe that’s the most accurate experience a listener can have, considering how PKAY brought the album to life.

Bottom line –  if you enjoy music like Nina Nesbitt and Olivia Rodrigo, then keep your eyes and ears on PKAY. She writes melodic, story-driven pop in the same vein as the current crop of superstars – and she does it beautifully.

You can listen to “pls call me” and the complete album letters from the 99 on Spotify.

For more updates from PKAY, make sure you follow her on Instagram and Tik Tok, as she’ll be releasing more music throughout 2022.