Jesse McCartney Leaning R&B On New Songs

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Thanks to three singles, including a remix of "How Do You Sleep" with Ludacris, Jesse McCartney's third album, "Departure," has definitely arrived. But that doesn't mean he's not thinking about his next release.

In fact, McCartney hit the studio in January to record some new songs for an April 7 release of an expanded edition of "Departure." "I kind of want to rejuvenate the album a little bit," McCartney tells Billboard.com, "and make it fresh again for everyone and make sure if they haven't checked it out yet that they will this time."

McCartney says the five new tracks, including three brand-new compositions, will be available for individual sale online for those who already own "Departure."

"I wanted something that was a step towards the next album but not too far from 'Departure,'" McCartney explains, "some sort of middle ground. There's definitely more R&B coming out of me, I feel, in the last couple months. I'm really thinking the next album will be swinging even further in that direction."

McCartney -- who kicks off his next tour on Feb. 13 -- hopes to take "Departure," which debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 in May and has sold nearly 260,000 copies, "well into '09," and after co-writing Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" he's being tapped to write for even more artists, including Toni Braxton.

The musical success has thrown a kink into his acting career, however. Though the former "Summerland" star did film a multi-episode arc for ABC Family's "Geek" that will start in March, McCartney recently had to bow out of the role of Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan's big screen adaptation of Nickelodeon's "The Last Airbender." The part is being taken by "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel.

"Unfortunately we just couldn't do it," McCartney says. "It was really biting into this tour we had planned for months. I've had so much momentum, I just didn't want to stop it in its tracks. We really tried to make it work with Night and with everyone over at Paramount; they've been amazing throughout the whole thing."

But, McCartney adds, "I'm not too worried. I think there's plenty of time for my film career, still. There'll be other films in the future that will be perfect and, hopefully, better timing."