[1 August 2014]
Ostensibly a first-person narrative delivered by the titular composer, here refracted through P.F. Sloan’s somewhat liberal reading of the composer’s life and times, My Beethoven often comes across as a bit conceptually arch, but achingly beautiful in its classic arrangements. Having apparently found a frustrated kindred spirit in Beethoven, Sloan here co-opts several of the famed composer’s more well known melodies (“Joy to the Ninth”, most directly) applying his own lyrical stamp and utilizing the classical motifs as building blocks for his more pop-leaning vocal melodies.
Wildly ambitious in its musical scope, My Beethoven’s lyrics are ripe with artistic frustration and general disillusionment with a lack of critical and popular recognition. Working from piano-based arrangements with the occasional strings, horns and multi-tracked vocals, Sloan explores his inner demons and frustrations through his newfound muse, creating an album at once cathartic and playing like the autobiography of an eternally frustrated artist seemingly always on the outside looking in.
Lyrically dense, My Beethoven can be a bit off-putting in its often insular, jaded tone, but, once parsed out, can be highly rewarding. When taken in tandem with the gorgeously intricate arrangements, some of the more questionable lyrical moments and extended passages of self-pity can be forgiven. Regardless of the album’s somewhat morose origins and lyrical content throughout, it’s an interesting, at times grandiose experiment from one of the great, unheralded pop composers of the 1960s.