There's a whole lot to love on Michael Lynche, the debut album from St. Pete's own R&B teddy bear. The likable leviathan who made a fourth-place run on the ninth season of American Idol gamely follows in the tradition of husky crooners Luther Vandross and Barry White, big men with big voices, big smiles, big hearts.
Of course, it should be noted that Lynche has dropped 90 pounds from his looming 6-foot-1 frame. So maybe Big Mike, who'll be crooning the national anthem at Friday's Bucs-Titans game at RayJay, needs a size-appropriate new nickname? Hmmm. Too bad Magic Mike is already taken.
Regardless, the 29-year-old hasn't shed any of his seductive powers. First single Who's Gonna Love You More is chockful of '70s shag-rug smarm and has generated buzz on the R&B charts. Unlike certain Idol alums who pretend the show never happened once it's over, Lynche gamely revisits his big AI moment covering Kate Bush's This Woman's Work, and those first few notes still give chills.
Lynche had a hand in writing 12 of the 13 tracks and displays a frisky sense of humor, especially on Prince-like Crazy Gina and molasses-slow come-on Sex. His production choices usually lean more toward Al Green's classic cool than Usher's clubby synth attacks, and kudos to Lynche for not copycatting the radio.
There are a few throwaway milquetoast tracks here — Today and Unstoppable are underwritten and cliche — but you can't fault the rookie for a few bumps and bruises his first time out.
Lynche is a sweet coup for local label Big3 Records; the St. Pete studio finally gets a young, budding talent it can build around. This guy could truly be a star someday. Maybe Big Mike still works as a nickname after all.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.