From a young age I have always loved radio, its always been a source of inspiration and comfort. I love not knowing what song you are going to hear next and devoting a couple of hours of your life to DJ’s that you trust. I owe so much of my music collection to what I have heard on the radio: John Peel, Steve Lamacq, Jo Wiley, Adam Walton, Huw Stephens, Bethan Elfyn, to name but a few, have done so much to introduce me to music over the years.
For my latest discovery I have Bethan Elfyn to thank for playing ‘Best Days’ by Otto on her BBC Radio Wales show on 6th June. Hearing this song was one of those moments where I had to stop what I was doing (reading a book) and listen intently to every glorious sound that was gracing the airwaves. Following the show I then had to go and find out more and spent much of Sunday talking to my family about my latest discovery, listening to as much of Otto’s music as I could find and now wanting to introduce each and every one of you (if you haven’t already had the pleasure) to this lovely, charming man who performs under the name Otto.
Otto is Christian Punter from Ferndale in the Rhondda Valleys. He has been involved with the important work carried out by the Forte Project and BBC Horizons. He released an EP ‘Post’ in September 2019 which was produced Charlie Francis, finding out the story behind this EP made me even more interested in this singer songwriter. Otto lives in an old post office in Ferndale and invited his neighbours and members of the local community to write to him sharing their experiences and memories of the town. Otto then used the stories that he received as inspiration for the four songs on the EP. Each song demonstrates his ability to give a wonderful narrative style to song writing. ‘Boxer’ tells the story of a boxing champion who is his next door neighbour’s father. ‘Safer’ takes the tale of lost love and wraps it up nicely with beautiful lyrics and melodies, “Leaving on a train when will I see you again, I’ve never felt pain like this before”. ‘Old Lane’ will instantly draw you in with a sense of nostalgia that we can all relate to, “Memories of climbing trees, swinging on a gate”. We all have towns that have meant something to us in our life, that we have seen change yet our memories stand still. ‘Something She Never Knew’ deals with the subject of people coming and going, remembering those special moments in life and, if that wasn’t enough, we are treated to a gorgeous string arrangement which will ensure this song holds a special place in your heart.
Otto has been busy during lockdown, using this time as a period of creativity and writing new songs which hopefully will be available for us to devour very soon. If you head over to his Facebook page or BBC Horizons you will find live videos recorded at his home where there are new songs to enjoy including ‘Best Days’ featuring Mari Mathias. Please go and listen to this song now and if it has half the impact on you as it did on myself, then you will have a new favorite singer to brighten up these strange times we are living in.