Music

Sibling Duo Tigirlily Gold on Polishing Up ‘Ring’ for Its Second Radio Single: ‘It Still Packs a Punch’

Perception is reality.

Not literally — reality is reality, and nobody’s perception of it is 100% accurate. But what people perceive sure feels like reality, and sales executives, politicians and lovers are prone to take advantage of that in the marketplace of ideas. Sorting through what’s real and what’s not is one of the trickiest aspects of life in the dating pool. 

It’s also the foundation of Tigirlily Gold’s sophomore single, “I Tried a Ring On,” a gorgeously fragile account of a woman who recognizes the part she played in her own misperception of a relationship that didn’t pan out. 

“I love this song because it is open-ended,” Tigirlily’s Krista Slaubaugh says. “Whatever happened in the relationship, it obviously ended for a reason. At one point, maybe they were really in love — this is kind of my take on it — but I think people can fall madly in love, and then sometimes one person falls out a bit, and there’s not really a reason for it. It’s just a sad reality.”

The song’s reality took some time to unfold when Krista and sister Kendra wrote “I Tried a Ring On” in late 2022 at Stone Jag, a studio in Nashville’s Berry Hill neighborhood owned by producer-songwriter Pete Good (“We Don’t Fight Anymore,” “Y’all Life”). They tossed around ideas for roughly 90 minutes that morning with songwriter Josh Jenkins (“Tucson Too Late,” “Fancy Like”) without lighting a spark. Finally, Good brought up “I Tried a Ring On,” a title that played out a little like a movie scene in his mind.

“Think about somebody who has been in a relationship, even maybe walking with their mom through the mall — or by themselves or walking with a friend or something — then swinging into the jewelry store because they’re just kind of letting their mind go down that road a little bit like, ‘Hey, this could become that kind of thing,’” says Good. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I feel so stupid. I tried a ring on it, let myself buy into this thought.’”

His co-writers certainly bought into the title — “I don’t think Pete knew what he had,” Jenkins says — and the two guys started building a moody atmosphere on guitar. One of the Slaughbaughs had a piece of descending melody that became the opening part of the chorus, and Jenkins married it to a lyric about a relationship that “flew to the sun” before it burned out. The singer is more circumspect than angry.

“When we hit the line ‘I ain’t even mad about that,’ it feels like this girl is on her therapist’s couch,” says Jenkins. “It felt so human.”

“I Tried a Ring On” evolved into an unconventional song. The chorus held a wispy quality that contrasted with biting verses, a reversal of the typical structure where the chorus has the most energy. A one-line pre-chorus — “Don’t mean nothing now” — appeared at the end of the second verse instead of at the close of the usual first verse. They added a post-chorus the second time through, doubling the length of that stanza, and they used it again on the third chorus.

“To me, that’s the climax of the song,” Jenkins says. “I see the girl, I see her put the ring on, she hears the song, she sees the dress — she sees all of it. That was a decision we made that we wrestled with: Do we just do that once? It felt satisfying to do it twice.”

They spelled out some of the relationship’s details in the verses, particularly the opening frame, where the singer admits she “jumped the gun” on the coupling. The phrase became a stark part of that first section after Krista introduced it. “I ran track in high school, so I literally thought about starting a race,” she says. “But also, when you fall in love, there’s no time line for that. You just kind of fall headfirst. You can’t really help how you fall and how quickly you fall.”

They decided, however, that they had jumped the gun on the verse melody and ended up setting a second writing session to do some more work on that aspect of “I Tried a Ring On.”  “It was a little more pop-focused and a little more wordy,” Kendra recalls. “It just did not fit the vibe of what the song needed to be.”

During the demo session, Good and Tigirlily developed a bridge that relied on melancholy harmonies rather than a solo to enhance the song’s mood. “It’s supposed to be more atmospheric, in a sense, and ethereal,” notes Good, who produced both the demo and the final master.

The demo set the tone for the master tracking session, held again at Stone Jag with a band that featured drummer Evan Hutchings, bassist Craig Young, keyboardist Alex Wright and guitarists Sol Philcox-Littlefield and Todd Lombardo, who developed a slightly syncopated acoustic riff to create a sense of motion. Hutchings’ drum part evolved as the track progressed, adopting an almost militaristic attitude that added drama to the sound. Steel guitarist Justin Schipper slid a bundle of leading tones into the mix during overdubs that knit the production together.

The Slaubaughs recorded their vocals individually, though they were both present through the whole process. They primarily created two-part harmonies; however, Krista slipped a third voice in at key moments. And Kendra had little trouble with the lead, singing “I just feel stupid” during the chorus in a manner that captured the frustration that would accompany a stiff encounter with a disappointing reality. 

“We had been singing this song live for probably six months to a year before we ever even recorded it, so we were pretty comfortable with the vocal parts,” Kendra says. “Sometimes when I sing it live, I get a little angrier with it. But for the record, I wanted it to be more of a bittersweet, sad, kind of confused feeling. I probably did five to 10 different takes, and then Krista came in and put her vocals on top.”

Tigirlily Gold had several options for singles, but when the act polled fans, “I Tried a Ring On” was a clear-cut winner. Monument released it to country radio via PlayMPE on Jan. 5, and it was the highest-debuting single on the Country Airplay chart dated Feb. 10, arriving on the list at No. 55. 

“We had been singing ‘Ring’ at every show that we had played for country radio, every show we played outside — fairs and festivals — and we were singing it in bars and loud places,” notes Krista. “Everywhere we went, it still packs a punch, which, to have a ballad that still gets through to people in loud environments, this is something special.”

They’re rightfully hopeful that perception lines up with reality. 

“At the end of the day, it’s out of my hands what the song does,” Kendra says, “but I believe in it so much that I would have regretted it if it never had gotten the opportunity.” 

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