Alan Jackson says fans are comparing his new single 'So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore' to the George Jones' hit 'He Stopped Loving Her Today.' While it's far too early to enshrine this Jay Knowles and Adam Wright written ballad, Jackson's dark and personal performance rides the same rail Jones laid down 30-plus years ago.

'So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore' is Jackson's most vulnerable love song since the critically acclaimed but commercially ignored 'A Woman's Love' and 'Like Red on a Rose' in 2006. There's palpable pain in his expressions of love for a woman who no longer wants to reciprocate.

"I'll be the bad guy / I'll take the black eye / When I walk out you can slam the door / I'll be the S.O.B. / If that's what you need from me / So you don't have to love me anymore," Jackson sings over an acoustic guitar and gentle piano to begin the song. Old wounds are left exposed for everyone to see.

"I will keep all those memories of the good times / Yeah there were some good times / So when you think of you and me / They won't even cross their mind," he adds during a bare-bones but effective chorus.

Wright (Jackson's nephew and one-half of the country duo the Wrights) and Knowles are known but not yet superstar songwriters in Nashville. Most recently, they teamed up to write 'No Truck, No Boat, No Girl,' an album cut from Joe Nichols' latest album. Their mastery of word economy on this Jackson song may fill out their writing calendars in 2012 however. The best songs always allow a listener to fill in the spaces between the words, and Jackson's patient performance leaves plenty of room to do that.

"If he wine you're drinkin' / Leads you to thinkin' / That you want what we had before / Girl you call me / I'll let it ring and ring / So you don't have to love me anymore." 'So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore' is the perfect pairing of song an artist.

Listen to Alan Jackson, 'So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore'