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.

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.