Crystal Lariza is on her own. Stepping into the role of a solo artist might be frightening for an artist who has been as blessed with collaborations as she has. Lariza has played in Portland for nearly a decade in projects like Cooper and the Jam, Shiny Stone, The Lariza Sisters and her current band, Corner. Now, she’s ready to fearlessly set her own course.
“I'm always refining and redefining my sound,” Lariza says. “Frankly, I don't feel the need to be pinned down to one thing. I like lots of different sounds and I'm constantly searching for inspiration, like a squirrel, gathering shiny new things and adding them to the nest. I’ve been really lucky to be able to play with my sister and my band for so long. When you have energy with a group, that energy becomes a big part of your style, so playing solo can be scary, but it's also quite freeing.”
Watching Lariza perform “Snake” at The Rye Room, it is clear that her passion and musicianship brings an energy to her music that is uniquely her own. Her snappy guitar style dares the listener not to move and her vocal has a pure, rich tone that echoes with empowerment.
Lariza describes her writing style as one “without reservations.” As a songwriter, she opens herself to the process so completely that she often finds the song brings her to unexpected revelations. Perhaps that is why her music is so relatable and refreshing. In “Snake,” she draws on an image familiar to Portlanders, that of “pouring rain” to represent the deluge of change and challenge. Could it have been a premonition of her decision to strike out on her own as an artist?
Difficult to pinpoint. She jokes that she “can't say any of it’s intentional but maybe it's subconscious!” Whatever the case may be, Lariza says writing the song led her to a feeling of empowerment. She notes, “[‘Snake’ is about] not being afraid to look conflict in the eye—even in seemingly daunting situations.” Certainly, it is a much-needed anthem to remind listeners “to stand up for things you believe in and hold your own.”
“I don't always take by my own advice,” Lariza says. “But I'm working on it. I like that this song is here, like a little reminder.”
As one of the first iterations of Crystal Lariza, solo, her performance of “Snake” makes me think we are just seeing the beginning of this fiercely talented artist’s rise.