Without reconvening the Messengers, Paul Kelly nevertheless worked with a steady backup band on Deeper Water, resulting in a more consistent musical style than he had employed on Wanted Man. He did try South African mbaqanga on "Madeleine's Song" and a kind of Eno-like ambience on "Gathering Storm," but most of the songs had folk-rock arrangements, and most concerned romantic subjects, within which Kelly's primary concerns were lust and betrayal. On the best songs, he took a different tack or found a twist: The title tune was a rite of passage metaphor about generational commitment and "I'll Forgive But I Won't Forget" found new ways to talk about infidelity by focusing on the friend rather than the straying lover and delaying the news of the crime until the last verse. Such songs marked Kelly as a craftsman with a sense of surprise, and raised Deeper Water a cut above the more diffuse Wanted Man.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann