Personnel: Lewis Rogers (vocals, guitar, banjo, dulcimer, piano, pump organ, electric bass, percussion); Addison Rogers (vocals, whistle, drums, timpani, percussion); Diederik van Wassenaer, Richard Silvers, Liaht Slobodkin, Kyle Chung, Jonathan Wang, Christina Kim, Ari Fisher, Arman Nasrinpay (violin); Patrick Miller , Sey Cheon, Aaron Smith , Vanessa Castillo (viola); Graham Cullen, Hanearl Kim, Austin Criner (cello); Kayla Faurie (flute); Harrison Burks (clarinet); Keith Northover (bass clarinet); Cornelia Sommer (bassoon); Eric Juberg (alto saxophone); Matthew Shugert, Josh Sorsen (tenor saxophone); Evan Smail (baritone saxophone); Kevin Johnson , Aaron Sigmund (trumpet); Eleni Georgiadis (French horn); John Sorsen, Ben Knoernschild (trombone); Mike Coletti (congas); Ben Lumsdaine (hand claps, percussion); Erin Tobey (percussion, background vocals); Biz Strother (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Mark Lawson.
Recording information: Primary Sound, Bloomington, IN; Russian Recording; Sonovox, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Photographer: Michael Wilson .
Arrangers: Busman's Holiday; Matt Nowlin.
In 2014, the indie folk-pop duo of Lewis and Addison Rogers, who go by Busman's Holiday, released their full-length debut, A Long Goodbye, which showcased the brothers' melodic storytelling and homespun style. While often reinforced with instruments like strings, brass, and mallet percussion, it rarely strayed from an impression of listening to weekend buskers, an impression encouraged by zealous vocal harmonies and Addison's rudimentary drum sound, which relies on a suitcase as kick drum. Popular Cycles follows two years later with more ambitious arrangements that make use of a 21-piece orchestra. "See the Rain" almost functions as a tone poem, with the full orchestra illustrating the development of a storm under lyrics that wake to see a rainbow. On the rest of the tracks, which look in on the lives of a various characters, the orchestra is less prominent but still present. "Unknowing" incorporates strings, woodwinds, and brass, but they all play second fiddle to acoustic guitar and vocals. "Hope & Peace," a two-part ballad led by each brother in turn, makes due with just voices, acoustic guitar, and flute until the final minute, and "Jesus' Mother" is effectively solo a cappella. The album also folds in an eclectic batch of styles, from its '60s pop sensibility to Caribbean steel-drum music ("Mother") and jump blues ("Evening Flows"). What hasn't changed since their debut, and what really defines the album, is the duo's knack for robust melodies fortified by the inviting warmth of both brothers' voices, particularly the sweetened rasp of Lewis, who more often sings lead. Popular Cycles opens with the words "Welcome one and all/I'm glad to see you've come" and closes with a group singalong, a fitting bookend for the winsome follow-up. ~ Marcy Donelson