The Scotsman Sessions #393: Rosie H Sullivan

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions, a series of short video performances from artists all around the country introduced by our critics. Here, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, Rosie H Sullivan performs her song Timeless – a track inspired by her adopted home

Respect to Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Rosie H Sullivan for going al fresco in winter to record her Scotsman Session, perched on the Vennel Steps with an unbeatable view of Edinburgh Castle. The choice of location is appropriate, however, as the track she has chosen to perform, Timeless, is inspired by her adopted home – in particular “the timeless beauty and nature of the city” and was written from the windowsill of her flat “where I can see the castle poking through the trees.”

Timeless features on Sullivan’s current EP In My Nature, a title chosen because she says “it’s in my nature to be in nature. I'll never be too far from a stream, forest, field or the sea.” Sullivan grew up under the big skies of the Isle of Lewis and has been making music since childhood, brought up on her dad’s Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Genesis records, and writing songs on fiddle and then guitar from her early teens.

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She recorded her debut single So It Is under a tree in her garden – one mic, one take – catching the attention of Canadian label Nettwerk in the process. Home to the likes of Passenger and Matt Maltese, the label is a good fit for an artist with folk roots who now cites the likes of Laura Marling, Bon Iver and Phoebe Bridgers as influences.

Rosie H SullivanRosie H Sullivan
Rosie H Sullivan

The songs on In My Nature were inspired by her move to the mainland in 2020, with the various upheavals that entailed. She co-wrote one track, self-styled “feminist anthem” Only a Woman, with Katie Sutherland and the whole collection was whipped into shape with Ross Hamilton aka Buzz Killer at his studio in Paisley.

“This EP reflects what and who I am, through and through,” says Sullivan. “It is in my nature to write down words and melodies and make them into songs that I can hold in my heart and share with others. This music is a reflection of what makes my soul happy and I hope it makes others happy too.”

Sullivan will soon have that opportunity to spread the joy at her biggest gig to date, headlining her own full band show at Celtic Connections. “I love Celtic Connections as a festival,” she says. “I supported Beans on Toast last year and it was so much fun. It was the start of a very good year for me. Celtic Connections is one of Scotland’s best and I feel honoured to be part of it. It’s going to be great show, definitely one I won’t forget for a while.”

Before then, Sullivan has an intimate instore gig at Thorne Records in Bruntsfield to mark her first vinyl release. “It’s my local record shop so it feels really special to have my record on sale there,” she says. “It’ll be a lovely way to start the new year.”

Rosie H Sullivan plays Thorne Records, Edinburgh on 19 January and CCA, Glasgow on 26 January. In My Nature is out now on Nettwerk Records