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Boy Golden: Prairie Boy For Life

Liam Duncan finds himself in the search For Eden.

by Neil Jefferies

Photo by Calm Elliott-Armstrong

In the year 2022, on a slushy stretch of Highway 1 near Winnipeg, MB, country-folk crooner Boy Golden (Liam Duncan) crashed his treasured 1995 Toyota Previa into a ditch. The windows blew out, the roof collapsed, and all of a sudden the van that acted as a steady line of consistency through a whirlwind of change for Duncan was gone. 

He understood well that the van made a sacrifice in order to save his life. “I figure she died in battle and went to Valhalla,” he says. It’s that kind of changing of chapters, the survival and growth through said change and the allowance of life’s bittersweetness to sit on your tongue for a little while that inspires much of who Boy Golden is as a musician – and also represents what his new album For Eden is about. On that day, he watched a pure part of himself become no more than a tattoo on his arm, and he had to track down the other parts of that purity without his beloved set of wheels.

From the comfort of the No Fun Club studio in Winnipeg, where he has been working on new music with fellow Six Shooter Records artist William Prince, Duncan guides us through his journey from the early days, working at local bars and trying to build his reputation as an artist in Winnipeg, all the way to the present moment, where music is his full-time job. From the humble beginnings of performing as a side musician under the pressure of Winnipeg’s tremendously talented local pool of artists, Duncan started by learning what it means to be a musician, the Winnipeg way. 

“The quality of the side musicians here is top notch,” he tells RANGE. “It was just expected that you would have the songs memorised, no charts.” 



It’s this style of hard nosed, raw musicianship that helped Duncan grow into a frontman. As Boy Golden, the free-wheelin’ lead for a collection of fellow Manitoban musicians known as The Church of Better Daze, he adopts a fun-loving country-star persona that leans on the janky, outlaw-ish side of things and rings to a similar tune as Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson and Ridley Bent. Duncan often wears a bolo tie gifted to him by his Grandpa Golden, with the Manitoban crest placed onto a rounded shard of a deer antler, while the rest of the band sports a similar, bolo tie wearin’, Toyota key totin’, weed smokin’ style of dress and cheerfulness. Together they record, perform and enjoy each other’s company, each searching for days away from day jobs and a road towards growth as people through song. In the early days, the alias Boy Golden brought more separation between Duncan’s on and off-stage personae, but with time and change, and his mind’s adaptations to both, the moniker began to merge with the songwriter.

“With the first album it was really freeing to know that it was like a character, singing these songs. That said, I think as I’ve gone on, it’s not so much of a difference anymore,” he says. “I think the better and more comfortable I got with writing songs, the more personal they became, so this new album that I’m making is pretty hard to see where Boy Golden stops and Liam (Duncan) begins.”

Fast forward three years and Boy Golden has evolved to wear the same skin as Duncan, morphing into one introspective, grateful and inquisitive cross between the two. As he reflects on time and all of the places he’s been and ought to be in the future, he can’t help but feel overwhelmed, but also appreciative. “It’s constantly jarring. Everyday is jarring,” he says.

In these days, if he’s not touring, Duncan starts his mornings late, eases into some form of physical activity, takes a cold shower, and before he gets to work on either his own music or that of one of the many other musicians he works with, he reminds himself: well shit, this is what he’s been working towards. “I’m really lucky to have developed some really helpful practices in my life that just help me stay here,” he says. “One of them being a meditation practice, and over the past few years, speaking out loud what I’m grateful for. I don’t think I’m going to have many regrets about this stage of my life.”

Duncan uses the reminders of where he’s been and where he wants to end up to fuel the content of For Eden. In one sense Eden is literal: it’s the name of an idealised prairie town settlement near his parents, about an hour’s drive north from where he grew up in Brandon. It’s an area as rich with Manitoban goodheartedness as it is in wheat. 

“I definitely struggle living in the city feeling disconnected from the prairie, from the land that I love, sometimes from my family and maybe even from myself,” he says. “When I was writing this record a couple years ago, I had a studio downtown, the pandemic was rough and I was in a bit of a tough neighbourhood. It was tough to see every day. So Eden became a metaphor for the dream and of feeling more connected.” 



In another sense, these are songs written for the purest parts of ourselves, the parts where all of life’s tragedy, monotony and extravagance align to make something greater. “These songs being for Eden, it’s for that pure part of myself, for the part of myself that is the most true,” he says. “Throughout the record I explore issues that I’ve had to grapple with, like sexuality, dealing with my own ambition. The collision of ambition and art and your career, those things seldom lineup. I feel like this record is the most pure thing I’ve made. I didn’t really ever intend for it to be released, I was just making it for myself. I just love this record, I feel really close to it still, even though many of the songs were written four years ago and I’m a different person now, I still just listen to it and feel like this is maybe the best thing I’ve made, or the most true thing I’ve made.”

For Eden is a bluegrassy folk and country album that prides itself on storytelling, honesty, and sprinkles of good hard fun. It’s focused on soul-searching and reflecting through the sometimes poetic, sometimes regular walkings or drivings of everyday life. It is just as Canadian as it is without borders, just as thoughtful as it is fun, and just as welcoming of time’s passage as it is afraid of it.

The next steps for Boy Golden aren’t abundantly clear. As Duncan focuses on his band’s upcoming tour, the release of For Eden and his assistance on other artists’ records, he’s allowing himself some time to figure things out. “I’ve been writing and collecting songs since I finished For Eden; I’ve been writing a lot. A few dozen demos in my folder, but I don’t see a record there yet. I don’t know, I feel like the next step is a bit mysterious to me. I feel like I’ll know when I know.”

For Eden will be released on July 19 via Six Shooter Records | PRE-ORDER