Tribute Quartet released their current CD, Our Anthem, in the Fall of 2012 and with it, came an anthem for everyone that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. The songs are geared to bless, give hope, and most of all, provide a song of praise that the listener can live for and claim as their own. Also, the songs on this project feature a variety of ballads and quartet songs from the leading writers in the Southern Gospel industry. Some of the songwriters represented on this CD are Rodney Griffin, Joseph Habedank, Matthew Holt, Dianne Wilkinson, Kirk Talley, and “Rusty Goodman.” Behind every great recording is a great producer, and Roger Talley is the man behind this one. (He also produced two of Tribute’s older releases, For This Time and The Waiting Is Over.)
The anthem of the Christian life can be clearly seen in the lyrics of this project. Because of this, the theme in these twelve tracks cover every aspect of the Christian life; from revival in the church (track 1) to the call of evangelism (track 7,) forgiveness for the prodigal (track 9,) and encouragement for the valleys (track 11.) It’s clear that these songs were specifically chosen to create a special tone – one that meets people where they are. With songs like that, there is something on this recording for everyone.
On this CD, you’ll hear vocals from…
Tenor – Riley Clark
Lead – Gary Casto
Baritone – Josh Singletary
Bass – Anthony Davis
1. God’s Gonna Send Revival
Feature: Riley Clark
Message: Revival – it is what we need in our land and in our hearts…it also happens to be the subject of this song. Beginning with the chorus, the lyrics declare that God will spread a revival throughout the land. His people will live in such a way that they can’t be defeated – and all this will be through the power of Christ in their lives. The first verse sets up the theme by showing us the unity of God’s people; all we need is the Father’s strength to live in this world and that when 2 or even 3 are gathered together in His name, He is in the midst of them. The second verse compares this great revival with some word pictures from nature – it’s like a wildfire that can‘t be controlled, manna falling down from heaven and blessing the people and finally, it’s like a strong rushing wind that reminds us of the power of God’s almighty hand.
Other Comments: I love how the intro to this tune is the chorus of the old hymn “Revive Us Again,” and recorded acapella, it give us that “old time revival” feel. Great up-tempo song written by Kirk Talley and Jeff Gibson!
2. Thank The Lord
Feature: Gary Casto and Anthony Davis
Message: Written in first person, the theme can be summed up in the first line, “I wanna thank the Lord for what He’s done for me!” That also happens to be the first line of the chorus, where the writer explains how the Lord saved them just in time, and now, the new anthem of this person’s life is expressed through praise to the Lord Jesus. The one speaking in the first verse recalls the “olden days” when they didn’t know the Lord and had no idea what they were missing. Those were lonely times…for without the Lord, there was no one to see them through. That never filled them, so they came to the Savior with their cup and He filled it! While the first verse looked back, the second looks forward to the coming day when they will say goodbye to this earth and “answer heaven’s boarding call.” But, before they go, there’s one more thing they want to do…thank the Lord.
Other Comments: The first thing that caught my attention within the music was the cross between styles – Southern Gospel and Country. The track begins with strings and we have a good SGM feel in the chorus, and then the verses come along and edge into a minor key that resembles an old Country tune. (Not quite as strong as His Tomb Is Empty from their 2009 recording, For This Time, but it’s there.) I especially enjoyed the “Ooo’s” in the background of the second verse! Perfectly delightful!
3. Good News From Jerusalem
Feature: Josh Singletary
Message: Within three verses and a chorus, we see a summary of the Lord’s life on this earth, and in the fourth verse a glorious telling of the future. Our story begins with a “Man who was not like any other.” He spoke words that the people had never heard before: of judgment and a kingdom. But His preaching offended the religious rulers. So the second verse leads us into the hall of Pilate, where mockery and distain was aimed at the Son of God. Though Pilate knew He was innocent, the jeering cry of “crucify” persuaded him…he thought he could just wash his hands from it all. Then, Golgotha and the tomb fill the third verse with the death of our Savior and His glorious rising. When the women who approached His grave saw this, they ran into the city proclaiming the message of the chorus, “Good news from Jerusalem!” In the chorus, the fundamentals of our faith are laid out: The cross, the empty tomb and upper room. The fourth verse brings us to today’s world – 2,000 years later. One that’s filled with sorrows, tribulations, wars and sin. But peace is coming! As the chorus repeats, the cross is replaced with a sign in the sky, the empty tomb for a crown and the upper room with a throne. Most of all, the last line thunders the greatest news of all, “He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive!”
Other Comments: This great song from Dianne Wilkinson’s pen is one of the strongest songs on the project. The style reminds the listener of the Talley’s “He’s Alive” – yet, it is unique and stands on its own. The track has a great energy and builds from the moment it begins. It’s worthy to note the slow down in the third verse (when the lyrics speak of the cross and tomb) because it’s a perfect set up for the triumphant chorus!
4. The Song Of Heaven
Feature: Riley Clark
Message: The eternal praise of heaven surrounds the throne…and this song. Beginning with the word of the Lord recorded in Revelation, the writings of John described in ink what he saw with his eyes: the brilliance of that holy city and a beautiful song. The chorus tells us what that song is: hallelujah, praise, glory – all to the Lamb. This is the anthem…this is the song resounding there. The second verse continues to expound upon the song eternity, it is one that contemplates the wisdom of the Almighty, His power, and the tale of salvation written for us. There, He who rules is worshipped, and Him alone. One day, we’ll have the highest honor to raise our voice with the saints and sing…the song of heaven! “Hallelujah – worthy is the Lamb” makes up the bridge, leading into the chorus once more.
Other Comments: Love the marching band in the intro – sweet! This is also the song that the CD title comes from. Woven into the chorus is the powerful line that reads, “This is our anthem now and forever…” This ballad is superb. With songs like this one, you can’t convince me that SGM has too many songs about heaven! LOL Keep ‘em coming!
5. Homesick Angel
Feature: All parts
Message: This number looks at the rapture in a different way…a unique and enjoyable one to be sure! The first verse considers the angels that camp around God’s people – these were first sent to each Believer when they experienced the “second birth,” and even though they long for their home…they’re not going anywhere without us! So, as the chorus tells us, when we go to heaven, it’s going to be “on the wings of a homesick angel!” One moment we’ll be on earth, and then in the twinkling of an eye we’ll be at the Master’s banquet He has so lovingly prepared. The second verse further contemplates the time when we’ll be called from this earth and view that blessed “welcome sign” into heaven!
Other Comments: The Celtic feel the violin gives the intro immediately draws the listener into the music. This exceptional tune was written by Daryl K. Williams and is one of my personal favorites from the project. When we hear songs about the coming of Christ, we’re so use to hearing about the cloud He’s coming on or the trumpet that’s going to blow…to hear a number about what the angels think, is creative indeed!
6. Leavin’ On My Mind
Feature: Anthony Davis
Message: From the title, you’ll be sure to guess that heaven is the sole focus of this slower song. Everyday life provides a host of things that need fixed – things like windows and shutters – though the writer of this song fully intends on getting those things done, something else has taken up his present attention. The chorus tells us what that was…leaving this world and entering the next. Most of the time, that’s all he can think about anymore. In the second verse, he goes on to say that though he should find a more suitable home, he just can’t get excited about staying on this earth anymore. Even if a dime could purchase the world, well, there’s not much he could do with it when all he can think about is leaving!
Other Comments: Anthony and the rest of Tribute sing this old Rusty Goodman classic as a tribute to Jim Arneson – a concert promoter who suffered a tragic death in a car accident early in 2012. This was Jim’s favorite song.
7. The Time Is Now
Feature: Riley Clark
Message: Passion for spreading the Gospel encompasses this song from the very first verse. That first stanza opens our eyes to the ones who are still lost and urges us to introduce them to the risen Savior and the saving hope of Calvary. No sacrifice is too great if it brings another soul home. The refrain reminds us that the time for spreading the Word is now. We don’t have many days left to “go into all the world,” so there isn’t time to let our convictions slip – we need to stand firm and follow the call, because the time is now. The second verse goes on to speak of the urgency to see souls saved – Christ is returning soon! The only hope the people in this world have is if we tell them of the hope that goes beyond the grave, of forgiveness, and salvation. The bridge points back to the verse in Scripture that says, “The fields are white unto harvest, but the laborers are few.” The time is now…
Other Comments: Hearing Riley sing this song reminds me of another ballad he sang from their last recording – Save My Family, Save Me Friends. The theme is similar and the tempo is the same also, but most of all, this song is strong would do well in concert (especially an invitation song).
8. With Just A Little
Feature: Josh, Gary, and Anthony
Message: Beginning with the chorus, the lyrics declare, “God can do it all!…with just a little.” Whether it be a little stone, a little fish and bread, or a promise to move a big mountain, God can do all those things with “just a little faith.” The first little thing we see God using, in the first verse of this song, is David’s little stone. Though others mocked his choice of weaponry, God used David’s little offering to bring the giant down. The second verse talks about the little boy with a little lunch on the hillside with Jesus and the five thousand. Though the fish and bread was meant to satisfy a child, with the blessing of the Lord, it fed five thousand. Now, the third verse takes the moral of these stories and applies it to us. When you think you don‘t have much to offer the Lord, just give Him what you have. As the last line promises, He can use it! “My God can do a lot with just a little faith!”
Other Comments: This good tune came from the pens of Rodney Griffin and Joseph Habedank. What an encouraging message it has! The Lord can use everyone for something, whether big or little! Each verse features a different vocalist: Josh gets the first stanza, Gary the second and Anthony sings the third verse.
9. He Loved Me Anyway
Feature: Gary Casto
Message: This ballad meditates on the wondrous love of God toward His children that wander away from Him. Written in first person, the one speaking in the first verse narrates the mistakes they made by looking back on their life. With sorrow, they see how taking the wrong path changed them. Where that road ended, embarrassment and abandonment began, and God’s breaking heart could be heard within their soul. Yet, the road didn’t end there – the chorus tells the rest of the story; how the Father brought this person back into the flock, loved them, replaced their twilight with a new morning. My favorite line of the refrain has to be this: “Though I let Him down, He still reached down and took away the shame…” In the second verse, we see a more spiritual side of the story. We see the same story of verse one, only this time, through the eyes of God. We’re still in first person, but now the one speaking talks about God’s point of view – He knew what would happen before He created the world, and when sin began with a garden and a lie, He prepared a way to love His creation anyway…through the cross.
Other Comments: Though the message sounds like a big ballad, it isn’t, but rather has a very mellow arrangement. Most of the time, Gary is singing along with a guitar playing finger style. Though the piano and violin come in later, this song depends on the voice to get the message across…and Gary does it well. I don’t think there is another song on this CD that could be pulled off with such a simple track, but this one fit the bill.
10. Through Me, The Cross Lives On
Feature: Josh Singletary
Message: The legacy of the cross has been doubted by some, but through each one who believes in Jesus Christ, the cross continues to live. In the first verse, we see three kinds of people in this world – those who doubt the cross, those who despise it and those who are redeemed by it. The chorus is sung by just one who belongs to the later group. This person will serve a dying world, cling to the cross of life, proclaim the saving power of the blood and through them, what Christ accomplished on the cross will live to reach each generation. In contrast to the first verse, the second adds one more group to the three listed above – this group of people, those who are lost and just waiting for someone to tell them about the Lord, the cross and the empty tomb so they can be saved. The bridge tells us that one did not have to see Jesus die on the cross to believe what happened is really true – because that power is still felt today.
Other Comments: Now, this is your typical ballad! Big orchestration with strings!
11. It Always Gets The Darkest
Feature: All vocals
Message: This tune speaks a message of hope and victory for our valleys. The first verse recalls the deep valleys and hot deserts that one journeys through to reach the mountain tops in their lives. Though weariness descends upon them, they have hope because their Lord takes every step with them. The chorus reminds us that the darkest part of the night is that time just before the dawn, and it is at those places in our lives, when the Devil works the most to get us down. Don’t be discouraged! The Son will soon rise! In the second verse, they speak directly to the listener and admonishes you to see the storm coming upon you and not to give up, because Jesus is always with you!
Other Comments: This is a great quartet song! It doesn’t feature a solo on the verses, instead, all the guys sing it together. The message and the beat is reminiscent of Bring on the Joy (from The Waiting Is Over/2012) – this one will go over well in concert!
12. Better Farther On
Feature: Gary Casto
Message: This mellow ballad encourages the Believer to keep on, keeping on. The first two verses are done back to back and contrast the struggles we face on our walk through this world’s desert to the “field of endless day” beyond Jordan. The chorus reassures us to keep going “farther on” and to count each landmark as we pass them because the farther we get, the better it is! The third verse fast forwards to that day when we stand by the grave side of one who has passed on…and we’re asked to sing the song we once sang (in their memory) even if the strain has a touch of sadness in it.
Other Comments: This song ends the project with a slow, thoughtful meditation…and a bit of sadness as well. It certainly makes you think, and that isn’t such a bad thing, eh? All the guys sing the first verse and then Gary sings the second and third.