First Listen: The Garland Smells like Darts by Joe Ross

Category: music 65

Joe Ross is about to release his first Christmas single. The Garland Smells like Darts hits streaming services Nov. 14. Hear it here first. 

Matt Carter 

I used to see writing a holiday song as some weird rite of passage artists reserved for the approaching end of their careers. The kind of monumental act that only surfaces when the well of original ideas has run dry. But that’s not always the case. 

Since returning to writing and performing in 2018 after a lengthy hiatus, Fredericton musician Joe Ross has maintained a consistent presence on local stages while occasionally working with Dylan Ward at Shiftwork Recording to capture new ideas. Keeping things fresh by dipping his toes into unexpected territory, Ross will soon add to the holiday canon with his latest single, The Garland Smells like Darts. Backed by an impressive collection of musicians including Al Jeffries (David Miles Trio) on mandolin, Greg Harrison (Mear/Taktus/Lighthouse) on keys, Andrew DeMerchant (The Hypochondriacs/Capital 6) on drums, and Trip Lewis on guitar, Ross sidesteps religious fervor in favour of nostalgia and redemption. 

The Garland Smells like Darts looks back on a relationship, shortcomings, and the odd mix of expectations we place on the holiday season. 

“I never intended to write a Christmas song and would have never purposely written one, ever, unless the first verse hadn’t popped into my head, all at once,” said Ross.

“I stored our plastic garland in the shed.

Now Christmas smells like cigarettes.

I’d go out there to smoke alone,

but it’s bone chilling cold.”

The Garland Smells Like Darts arrives on streaming services November 14. 


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