Three decades ago, a young Virginia-born son of a preacher named John Austin released his promising debut Embarassing Young. The album was a hit with the budding alternative Christian scene, but he was promptly dropped by his label Word when a youth pastor wrote in complaining his lyrics “conjured up images of sex, death and depression.”
Soon after, he was jumped by a street gang in Chicago, his injuries scuttling his upcoming European tour. And then his mentor and producer of that first album, the legendary Mark Heard, suffered a heart attack on stage and died shortly after. Austin would continue to release artful folk-rock on a handful of independent labels (including 1998’s If I Was a Latin King on Weathervane, which was eventually acquired by Paste Music).
Today, Austin has released a remastered 30th anniversary edition of that first album, available on all streaming services. A vinyl version will be available in early 2023, and Austin is currently working on his first album since 2014.