Zach Pietrini is a work in progress. That’s not an indictment of his talent as much as it is an acknowledgement of Americana troubadour’s unwillingness to spend too much time in any single creative territory. Since his 2007 outset as bandleader and namesake of Zach Pietrini & The Broken Bones, he’s released four records under two different project names, while displaying noticeable evolution as a musician and lyricist with each new album. This weekend, the eponymous frontman of what’s now called The Zach Pietrini Band will formally release Holding Onto Ghosts, his fifth album and a nine-song examination of age, wisdom, disappointment, and coming to terms with what life has thrown at him.

While Pietrini says Ghosts comes from a place of tumult and interpersonal exhaustion, conceptually-clashing opener “Dance” fits its name, as howling harmonica, twangy guitar work, and a jangling piano flank inspirational melodies about seizing the day because “tonight is all there is.” The rambunctious starter is chased with “One Shot For My Heart,” a mid-tempo malaise that seems tailor-made for a movie montage tracking characters’ attempts to move on separately. The boozy number flows into first single and album-stealer, “Learning The Hard Way,” which affixes Pietrini’s smooth and delicate voice to infectious hooks and a touch of classic country conveyed with a lap steel.

Though songs like “They Disappear” and “Highway Life” fall even deeper in the bleary and self-reflective crevice, Pietrini and band begin their ascend again near album’s end with the optimistic “Get Out” and touching “There For You,” in which Pietrini sings about making his way home after time away on “the long and dusty road.” On the whole, Holding Onto Ghosts finds Zach Pietrini warding off personal demons and walking away from the fight older, wiser, and markedly closer to the hallowed artistic ground he’s been seeking all along.

The Zach Pietrini Band will release Holding Onto Ghosts at Anodyne’s Walker’s Point Roastery on Friday, March 3. The show begins at 8 p.m. and costs $10. Jodee Lewis opens. Before the album’s public unveiling, listen to Holding Onto Ghosts now.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.