bandits on the run bare their souls in haunting new single “you are not a ghost”

bandits on the run bare their souls in haunting new single “you are not a ghost”

In a stirring testament to the power of ancestry and self-discovery, New York indie-folk luminaries Bandits on the Run unveil their most emotionally charged single to date, “You Are Not A Ghost.” This haunting anthem explores generational trauma, mental health struggles, and the quest for self-acceptance, marking a profound departure from their typically whimsical style.

At the heart of this profoundly moving piece is Regina Strayhorn’s raw dialogue with her past. The song serves as a spiritual bridge to her great-grandfather, Isaac Strayhorn, whose voice was violently silenced in 1940s North Carolina. “He was known as the town poet,” Regina reveals, her words tinged with both sorrow and pride. “I like to think that Isaac occasionally whispers lines he didn’t get to write in his own time into my ear.”

His gentle whisper crescendos into a powerful roar in “You Are Not A Ghost,” a song that doesn’t shy away from the darkness of depression and self-doubt but ultimately emerges as a beacon of hope and self-affirmation. Strayhorn lays bare her inner struggles, describing the song as “a wrestling match between feelings of deep sadness, tendencies toward self-abandonment, limiting patterns, deep self-love, and the awareness that to live freely in the here and now is my birthright and gift to enjoy.”

The raw emotion pulsates through every note, every lyric. When Strayhorn sings, “You are not a ghost / You’re blood and poetry,” it’s more than just a line – it’s a mantra, a lifeline thrown to anyone who has ever felt invisible or voiceless. Bandmates Sydney Torin Shepherd and Adrian Blake Enscoe add their own emotional layers, making the song both intimately personal and universally relatable.

In a particularly poignant verse, Strayhorn channels her great-grandfather’s voice:

“Isaac in the forties Was thrown into a pond Cement tied to his feet I feel him in my hands He asks me to be free To stop the spinning wheel Be big enough to feel Be big enough to feel”

These lines don’t just tell a story; they resurrect a silenced voice and paint a haunting picture of past injustices, their impact echoing through generations.

As the song builds to its cathartic conclusion, listeners are left with a profound sense of connection – to their own histories, to their present selves, and to the unlimited potential of their futures. “You Are Not A Ghost” is a spiritual experience, a reminder that we are all, in Strayhorn’s words, “blood and poetry,” alive with the power to rewrite our stories. 

The tears in Regina’s eyes as she performs in their NPR Tiny Desk Contest entry serve as a poignant reminder of the real, lived experiences behind the lyrics. They bridge the gap between performer and audience, inviting listeners to share in the cathartic release of long-held emotions. This honest display of vulnerability not only highlights the band’s authentic approach to their craft, but also emphasizes the healing power of music, both for the artists and for their audiences.

In creating this deeply personal yet universally resonant piece, Bandits on the Run have not only pushed their artistic boundaries but have also offered listeners a musical lifeline – a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we are vibrant, we are alive, and we are decidedly not ghosts yet.