Pirate audio autoplay jukebox

Ok, i have multiple paths through the project im working on. Im looking for feedback on the ideas. im really hoping someone will tell me there is a simpler and more elegant option. I dont even care if i have to buy another hat. I can use the pirate audio elsewhere too.

I have an older car, and rather than retrofit a newer stereo, im doing a pi zero 2 jukebox to do my music. It will be hardlined in and mounted within easy reach.
I know that i could use the iris web page to deal with most of my current set of problems, but i want to avoid the phone at all costs. I dont want to try to teach the wife how to do that.

My first plan, was to use a pirate audio line out to run the music and switch tracks. Id really like to take the volume control buttons and make them switch through .m3u’s or whatever playlist option works best. That way i have some album/folder control without having to do anything extreme. I really want to be able to switch albums or folders at a stoplight, without having to touch a phone. Id love to use the built in controls on my steering wheel, but i want the thing working before i get into that bag of problems.

I have been pondering adding some extra buttons and connecting to the gpio to add folder navigation.

Another thought that i have is that there may be a hat that gives easy folder navigation to flac files on the sd card its running on.

Im extremly comfortable with linux and the like. ubuntu/mint is my favorite. Im installing raspberry pi os lite on the pi zero. Im trying to get it so i start the car and having music playing asap. Im comfortable messing around with config files. Beyond that, i have no knowledge of how to adjust buttons on the pirate audio. If its even possible.