The Scotsman Sessions #395: Jordan Phillips with Conal Mooney

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions, a series of short video performances from artists all around the country introduced by our critics. Here, singer-songwriter Jordan Phillips performs new her single Losing, accompanied by Conal Mooney

Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Jordan Phillips was weaned on her mum’s favourites, Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline, then studied musical theatre at Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre Arts – “it gave me the courage to lay all bare,” she reflects now – before graduating from Napier University’s Popular Music course. She also gigs around in a covers band, Juniper, and works as a session vocalist, but is now making her way under her own name, exploring the indie folk sounds with which she most connects.

Phillips first stepped out solo three years ago with her debut single Something Otherwordly, which she followed with the release of her debut EP Long Way Home in November.

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“A lot of the themes on Long Way Home are quite hard hitting but it feels freeing to sing about them,” she says. “In Homebody and Once in a Blue Moon, I challenge my introversion and begin to find comfort in change. Both Less Than a Week and Graduation Song feel uplifting and empowering to perform live, which can be hard to picture at the time of writing.”

However, she has chosen to perform new single Losing for her Scotsman Session, recorded in the comfort of her Edinburgh flat, accompanied by regular wingman Conal Mooney, who produced the EP with Finlay Mowat. “I write a lot in this room, taking inspiration from everything I see out the window,” she says. “Conal is usually one of the first people to hear my songs and connect with them, so it felt right having him accompany me.”

Losing is a live favourite for Phillips, who says it concerns “the destruction of a relationship close to me. It’s difficult to deal with at the time but the song serves as a reminder of what you’ve come out the other side of. It’s a good introduction to my music – it’s often dreamy, narrative-based, vulnerable.

“I’m drawn to narrative songs, usually that either break or mend your heart, and give insight on a universal experience. It’s what I try to get across in my own work. It’s also what I admire most in the artists I’m inspired by, like Julia Jacklin, Rachel Sermanni and Phoebe Bridgers. You can be hooked on every word detailing an everyday experience or story you know well.”

As well as gigging around Edinburgh, Phillips made her first foray to the Highlands in 2023 to play Eden Court’s Under Canvas festival. Next on the agenda is a Sneaky Pete’s support slot with Carla J Easton as part of Independent Venues Week and she also has plans to collaborate with fellow rising Scottish stars Berta Kennedy and Hector Shaw.

Jordan Phillips and Conal MooneyJordan Phillips and Conal Mooney
Jordan Phillips and Conal Mooney

“I find that I do my best work in collaboration and try to make it a priority,” she says. “I wrote an early version of Less Than a Week in around two hours with my friend Erin Ferguson as we both had a lot to get off of our chest. It almost flew off the tongue.”

Jordan Phillips plays Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh on 2 February,