Alicia Toner's debut full-length album, I Learned The Hard Way is a deft blending of pop, roots, country rock and what many term Americana. What elevates it above all the definitions is Toner’s soaring, incredibly moving and emotive voice.
Growing up in New Brunswick, Toner was surrounded by music, and was classically trained on the violin, including a number of years spent with the prestigious New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, where she had a chance to play Carnegie Hall. She continued her theatre studies in Toronto and soon became cast in musical stage shows, including shows produced by Mirvish Productions and Soulpepper Theatre.
I Learned The Hard Way, is a pretty apt description of the tone of the album and sorts of material Toner deals with, especially in her self-penned compositions. While it is not a break-up album, it is an album about relationships – the good, the bad and the ugly. “It’s a life lesson album. It’s about going through all the hard stuff, learning lessons and getting through it all, which is something I really wanted to talk about. There are songs that are clearly break-up songs, but I think the reality of most people’s lives is that you can’t always just walk away and start fresh. You need to go through tough times, learn some lessons, make mistakes, and try to figure things out as best you can. That’s life. That’s reality,” Toner said.