CD Review: The Waiting is Over (Tribute Quartet)

The Waiting is Over (Tribute Quartet)Tribute Quartet launched several years ago with Jacob Kitson singing the tenor part. Given the name he has made for himself since then, it is no small feat that Tribute has been steadily improving since their original lineup. Tenor Brian Alvey came aboard at about the same time Tribute moved to Crossroads; that move brought them better song selection and tracks. (For Their Time, their first first project with Crossroads, is reviewed here).

Last year, Brian Alvey left to work in the Talley Trio office. (He is engaged to marry Lauren Talley later this year.) Tribute Quartet lead singer / manager Gary Casto made one of the finds of the year to fill his spot, hiring 18-year-old Riley Clark out of nowhere (or, more literally, out of Oklahoma!) Clark has generated so much buzz in the last few months that he picked up Top 10 Fan Awards nominations for Favorite Tenor and Favorite Horizon Individual. It was the first time any member of the group had picked up a top 10 nomination for their vocal part, and this was after only about six months on the road.

This buzz has been reinforced by increasingly strong live performances. So Tribute fans have been eagerly awaiting the group’s first mainline project with Clark (and with new bass singer Anthony Davis). Well, the waiting is over.

The Waiting is Over is packed with strong uptempo songs and ballads. The project opens with three strong uptempo songs, the strongest of which is the energetic “Jesus is Alive.” The fourth song is the mega-ballad “Homecoming Day”; this Melissa Brady-penned song features Riley Clark. It stands a serious chance of being Tribute Quartet’s breakthrough hit, establishing them on the radio charts. (It’s also the song from which the title was pulled; the chorus begins “Homecoming day, when the waiting is over…”)

The album misses being a five-star release by a whisker. (The too-obvious rhymes in the chorus of “The I Am” were that whisker.) It is, though, a solid four and a half-star release. The song selection helps the album earn its rating; the group seems to have followed the guideline that if you have several very strong songs and three or four open slots, it is better to fill those slots with moderately strong fast songs rather than moderately strong slow songs.

Two other highlights close out the album; “Save My Family” is a mellow prayer featuring Riley Clark. The buoyant “Bring On the Joy,” featuring Gary Casto, is the project’s first single, and the project’s strongest fast song.

The Waiting is Over is easily Tribute’s strongest project yet. Only time will tell whether this will be the project that breaks them through into the top tier—but it does put the ingredients in place.

Produced by: Roger Talley. • Group Members: Riley Clark, Gary Casto, Josh Singletary, Anthony Davis. • Review copy provided. • Song list: Songs of Zion; Makes Me Wanna Go; Jesus is Alive; Homecoming Day; More Than Able; The I Am; There’s a City; The Climb; He is Leading the Way; Save My Family; Bring On the Joy. Rating: 4.5 stars.


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29 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Wouldn’t missing 5 stars by a whisker be a 4.9 on a scale that goes out to one decimal place? Just kidding.

    I’m really anxious to hear this album!

    • But this doesn’t go out to one decimal place; it only goes to half stars. 😀

      • If a half a star is a whisker, does an act that keeps coming back from personnel changes have nine lives?

  2. FYI: When Melissa Brady wrote Homecoming Day, she, her father, and husband Jim Brady (then known as the Shulers) recorded it and the song is PHENOMENAL! I used to have their CD with that on it, but can’t find it. Glad Tribute picked it up. Riley is an incredible singer.

    • I did not know that – fascinating!

  3. Wow. I’m glad you weren’t my teacher in English lit! LOL! You took off a half star because a rhyme was too obvious in one chorus out of eleven songs? What sort of tight wad are you??? 🙂 That’s cold. Give this fine group a break. They had a bus fire this year. They lost an axle and tire off their trailer after that. They are still without a bus. And then you cut them 1/2 a star because some writer rhymed “Am” and “Lamb”? Geesh!!! Give ’em the five!!! (By the way, I hope you know this is just good natured ribbing at ya, Daniel. No malice or hard feelings intended!)

    • Glad to know it’s good-natured. 🙂

      Actually, it wasn’t just one rhyme – it was a number of rhymes throughout the song. All in all, I can easily overlook an occasional obvious rhyme – practically every song has one or two – but that particular song, as a whole, just wasn’t really on par with the rest of the CD.

      • Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification. And I assume we can’t eke that last 1/2 a star out of you? LOL!! Seriously, I’ve always felt that this group is definitely one to watch and one that will be out there for years and years to come. I’m sure you know them from your work with Crossroads and I don’t have to tell you they are the real deal on stage and off. It’s nice to see good things happen to good people. And I so agree with you about Bring On The Joy. I’ve been hearing it on the radio and it is smokin’ hot! I hope this takes Tribute right to the top. By far one of the better fast songs released to radio in quite some time. Very catchy. I find myself with it stuck in my head some days. LOL!

        Now for a question, and again, I’m not meaning to pick on you or disrespect anyone, but I’m just curious as to what sort of name you feel Jacob Kitson has made for hiimself. He wasn’t with Tribute or Greater Vision very long, and as far as I know he’s not even singing now. And other than winning a newcomer award because he was with the well-established and well-connected Greater Vision, I’m not sure what he’s done. I don’t mean to be ugly or start controversy, because I think the kid can sing and I assume he’s a nice fellow, but if there’s something I’ve missed, I’d like to know. Because in all sincerity, I really do not think he’s stuck around any one place long enough to make any sort of lasting impact.

      • Yes, they are some cool gentlemen indeed, and I love working with them.

        This CD is exceptionally good, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s my second-most-played Crossroads release of the year so far, after the Kingdom Heirs one we did the mega review on. So that says something about how much I personally enjoy it.

        That said, here’s why you’re not going to be able to eke that final half-star out of me: I think they have one better in them. 🙂 I think their next album could have two or three “Homecoming Days,” and a couple more uptempo songs like “Bring on the Joy.” Also, Anthony was brand-new when they did this, and he hadn’t found his sweet spot with the group yet. Based on YouTube videos, over the last few months, he’s definitely been coming more into his own.

        On Jacob Kitson: It’s not every young singer who wins “Favorite Horizon Individual” in the Singing News Fan Awards – and in his case, it wasn’t just because he was with Greater Vision. After I heard him sing “Little is Much” live at his first NQC with Greater Vision, I thought, “now THAT young man is taking home Favorite Horizon Individual next year” – and lo and behold, he did.

      • Well, I agree he sang that song very well, so his ability is not in question. Honestly, it’s not much of a stretch to predict that a really good new vocalist with a major group will win Horizon Individual. I thought the same thing about him. I guess, in my humble opinion, making a name (or at least a good name–I suppose one could make a bad name) for oneself requires more than good singing. It also requires some sort of consistent track record or longevity in the industry, neither of which Jacob seems to have achieved at this present time. In other words, I think he’s still on the horizon of his potential, should he resume singing. I think he was in the process of making a name when, I guess for lack of a better term or more information about him, he fell off the radar. Again just my opinion, which I thank you for allowing us all to share here.

        We do agree on several things, though. Riley Clark was a great find, Anthony Davis is coming into his own with the group, Tribute is a group of cool gentlemen, and I, too, think they have one better in them, not because this one isn’t great because it is definitely a superb recording. But I feel that this is a group that will always consistently strive to better themselves. We’ve seen and heard that already as each of their successive projects has been steadily better than the one before it. They really seem to have the hunger to keep pressing on in this business and that means consistently upping their game, which I think they are going to be doing for a very long time. Great talent, great management, and great people make for a great quartet, and these guys are proving they are a great quartet.

      • I’ve heard enough buzz to know that Jacob picked up quite a few fans and left at least somewhat of a mark – far more than many people who have joined top-notch groups leave. Pretty much everyone who follows SG with any regularity knows who he is, and many could pick out his voice; that’s no small thing.

        Anyhow, that aside, since this discussion is about the present group: With the possible exception of the first two albums being on the same level, every album since #2 has been a distinct improvement.

  4. OK, one more constructive complaint, if you would be so kind as to allow me, since you brought it up yourself. You mentioned in your last comement that this discussion is about the present group, so why the need to list all their previous personnel in the review? I beleive I know what angle you were going for, but the first three paragraphs of this review were about memory lane and not the CD. And in all honesty, I’m sure Tribute would love to leave the past in the past and focus on the here and now.

    Now, I’m sure you have one nerve left and I’m standing square on it, right??? LOL! I’m sorry! I’ll apologize in advance. I do feel your intent was positive to the group, to pat them on the back for steady improvements and personnel changes that are on par with the previous vocalists. I would have loved to hear more of what you felt about the album itself since it did get 4.5 stars. I just would hope that bringing up past singers would not in any way diminish what the group has currently, because from what I’ve seen of them, they have consistenly been great on stage and are very fan-friendly off stage and seem to be true ambassadors for what southern gospel music should represent. There are certainly many other groups out there who do that too, but it’s becoming more rare to find the total package, and I do think this group is one of the few to come along in the last ten years or so who seems to have “it.”

    • Quite simple: I need to give some background to give myself the credibility (for lurkers) that I know what I am talking about when I confidently declare this to be their best project yet. 🙂

      I have so many irons in the fire right now that most of you simply would not believe me when I say how much I have on my plate right now. But I’ll tell you a taste of it nonetheless. 🙂 Between a full-time job and some side work which I took on to help pay the bills after my car unexpectedly fell apart three weeks ago, I actually worked 95 hours last week. (I’m not kidding.)

      I also conducted two multi-hour interviews last week for an upcoming and unannounced book project (and no, this is not the venue to announce it; besides, it’s too early in the process), wrote daily news posts, worked on CD reviews, posted a book review or two on the Biblical Bookshelf, did daily half-hour treadmill workouts most days, cleaned and prepared my apartment for a men’s meeting tomorrow, and undoubtedly a few other things which I am forgetting.

      This is the context in which the fact that I’ve had less time to devote to CD reviews needs to be understood. 🙂 (And no, you’re not on my last nerve; I’m typing this with a smile on my face. I usually don’t let on how full I keep my plate, and it’s fun to let on once in a while!)

      • Slacker. 😉

      • Oh, and there were a few other (big) things which I know I’m forgetting… 🙂

        Funny thing is, the second sermon at church on Sunday (there’s one exegetical and one topical) was on slothfulness. I had to laugh to myself; I know that’s not something I need to be concerned about right now!

      • Are you sure that’s not my plate?? LOL! I totally understand the credibility issues as well as the full plate. I’ll let you in on a little secret…I relieve my stress by hanging out here picking on you! 🙂 HEE! HEE! Just kidding. I think we both have the same conclusion that this latest Tribute CD is a keeper and that’s what is important in the grand scheme of things. And you can let on to us when your plate is full, that way we’ll know to cut you some slack, even though it’s more fun to pick at ya! 🙂

      • OK. Well, at least once you backed off it being about a particular individual and it was clear you were just having fun (and not grinding an axe), I relaxed and joined the fun, too. 🙂

      • From the very beginning of my posts here, Daniel, I think I was clear that I didn’t mean to start controversy or be ugly, disrespect anyone or pick on you–in fact I said those very words. I talked about constructive complaints and thanked you for allowing me to share my opinion. So when you say “once you backed off,” it makes me think you thought something other than a honest, constructive expression of opinon. Not sure where you are coming from with that statement. But I’ll forgive you this time. 🙂

      • What I said was “backed off it being about a particular individual” – I didn’t want it to become a Jacob Kitson effigy session. Off the road or not, I liked him too much to let that go on for long! 🙂

  5. You still seem to sound like you think I was arguing or grinding an axe about Jacob himself and I wasn’t. I made that clear as well as being clear that I like Jacob. So I sort of take offense to wording like “letting that go on for long” or “once you backed off,” because I don’t think my comments merit that. My comments were about the statement you made about him making a name for himself, which in my opinion seems a tad premature for his tenure in the industry. It was nothing personal against him–or you! Just my opinion. Maybe those 95 hour-weeks are getting to you. Go take a nap!! 🙂 🙂

    I will say this. With all due respect, I do not think that most any person who has been with three different groups in four and a half years’ time (and is not with any of them currently) has made any sort of mark other than causing people to wonder if he or she might not be able to keep a job. I’m just sayin’–and please don’t think I’m picking on just one person here. I’d have to wonder about anyone with that track record in any job, not just music. And I’d be safe in saying that I’d have a fair share of folks who, if they were objective about it, would agree with me. I hope you understand my thoughts on it. And why are you still reading this, Daniel? I thought I told you to go take a nap! 🙂

    • Come on, Brady, that’s normal life for a tenor! 🙂

      • LOL! I’m fairly sure I just heard several tenors open up their knife drawers. You may want to sleep with the light on tonight! 🙂

      • But surely we can agree that Archie Watkins, Bill Shaw, and Brian Free are the exceptions, rather than the rule, right? Nobody thinks it’s remarkable if a bass singer stays 15 years with a group!

      • True, of course Brian has his own group now, as does Ernie, but with they were with other groups, they were of good tenure. And you can add Harold Reed’s tenure with Dixie Melody Boys and Norman with the Primitive Quartet to that list, as well. And there are some approaching the ten-year mark in the next couple of years, like David Sutton and…and…uh….ummm…..I’m all out. 🙂

      • How dare you forget Michael Booth?

        Hey, how dare I forget Michael? The TENOR SINGER OF THE YEAR right now? 😀

  6. Yeah, but he doesn’t count because his parents have said he has to stay with Ronnie so Ronnie can watch him when they’re out. 🙂

    • Oh. His mama does run the office, come to think of it. 🙂

  7. Now that I’ve received my review copy of this project, I can second Daniel’s point that this is easily Tribute’s strongest project.

    I will hopefully type up a full review in the near future, but for now here’s a few thoughts:

    -I think their next single off this project would be Homecoming Day (WOW!). If they went for another faster song, I’d pick There’s a City. I just have a feeling that it would be a strong choice for radio.

    -I agree about The I Am being one of the project’s weaker points. I’m not sure if its the rhyme scheme like Daniel stated, but theres something about the verses that just doesn’t sound right. I’m not sure if I’ll deduct points for The I Am, but I definitely see where Daniel’s coming from.

    All in all, this is a VERY strong project.

    • I agree with your conclusions – it’s their strongest yet, and very strong on its own.