PIAO Elevates Above Popstar Status on Debut EP, 'tissues' [EP Review]

Kieran Kohorst

We typically see foreshadowing in movies or books, indicated by strange quotes or nonlinear plots. For PIAO, it was her appearance on the cover of Spotify’s Fresh Finds Pop playlist that forecasted the singer’s imminent rise to prominence. In many ways, things happened exactly as they should. Talent beckons credentials, which were afforded to PIAO almost immediately upon her debut. Aside from critical acclaim, she received co-signs from some of the industry’s most qualified tastemakers, prompting T-Pain to dub her, “the next big thing.”

It’s easy to perform when the stakes are low; an underrated challenge is becoming who your believers have positioned you to be. On tissues, PIAO’s debut EP, she proves to be exactly who her biggest fans believed she would be. Eclectic and dynamic, the 5-song project is headed by singles “SFL” and “Haunted By Potential” and reinforced with a diverse ensemble of genuine emotion. There’s an undeniable personal quality in each track: “Haunted by Potential” is the lyrical equivalent of hard-to-swallow pills taken with bittersweet self-truths, while the innately bouncy “SFL” and adjacently spirited “Hannah Montana” bring levity to exercises of self-reflection.

“Popstar” is likely too limiting a title for PIAO. Born in Shanghai and currently splitting time between Toronto and Los Angeles, her talent as a multi-instrumentalist, writer, and performer makes an immediate impression. Recently graduated from Berklee College of Music, she’s seen her network of supporters grow through studio sessions and live shows. In companionship to the EP, a music video has been released for single and standout track “SFL.” PIAO’s tissues is a satisfying sample to an artist who endearingly wears her heart on her sleeve, her vulnerability propped up by her elasticity in performance.

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