If I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning was "the New York City album", then Cassadaga is "the America album", in which Oberst diaries his travels around the country and articulates his sense of history in the landscape. Should you have looked, you'd have found the band tucked away in various studios around the country. Recording for the first time outside of the Lincoln, NE studio belonging to Mogis, the Bright Eyes cast of players were busy in studios in Portland, OR, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Cassadaga itself, a community for psychics in central Florida, crops up throughout the album, known as a place visited in order to "commune with the dead". The wandering spirit is crystalized in "I Must Belong Somewhere" a song which was already a staple of live shows by the end of the 2005. "Hot Knives" is particularly spirited, bringing to mind the true energy of a Bright Eyes show. Likewise, "Soul Singer In A Session Band" - a rousing paean to an oxymoronic profession - enlists all of the elements which make the Bright Eyes live band such a euphoric experience. "Make A Plan To Plan To Love Me" is Bright Eyes at their most playful; a straight-up love song, replete with girl group vocals and Burt Bacharach strings. Oberst, the fumbling guitarist whose impassioned prose tumbles out under stark stage spotlights, is still recognizable in every track, but the songs are rich with elaborate production, cinema-sized orchestration and, at times, sprawling, almost psychedelic, atmospherics.
The line up of Bright Eyes players includes Andy Lemaster (Now It's Overhead), Ben Kweller, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Janet Weiss (Sleater Kinney), Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley), John McEntire (Tortoise), M.Ward, Maria Taylor and Rachael Yamagata.