Walking Away a Winner is the rocked-up/pop side of Kathy Mattea. With records by Mary Chapin Carpenter gathering steam as well as those of Beth Nielsen Chapman, Lucinda Williams getting some notice, and Bonnie Raitt riding the very top of the charts over the previous two years, Mattea took a listen and apparently liked what she heard. There are layers and layers of guitars on the album, and nowhere are they borne out more than on the title track that opens the album. With producer Josh Leo and a deck of tough songs, Mattea showed a side her country audience hadn't yet seen, and one that the adult contemporary and emerging AAA formats could embrace.
The year 1989 was awesome for Kathy Mattea. Her brand of country-pop music began to evolve toward folk and Celtic-oriented influences, which were actually encouraged by her label – changes like this in Nash Vegas are few and far between – and what's more, it all translated in terms of chart success and record sales. A strong and indeed the first completely realized project of her career, Willow in the Wind boasted three hits, "Burnin' Old Memories," "Where've You Been," and "Come from the Heart." The hard honky tonk/West Texas swing of "Burnin' Old Memories," with its slightly rocked-up tempo, is more than just catchy; it's infectious.
Kathleen Alice "Kathy" Mattea is an American country music and bluegrass performer who often brings folk, Celtic, and traditional country sounds to her music. Active since 1983 as a recording artist, she has recorded seventeen albums and has charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts.