Cécile McLorin Salvant stopped herself midsentence, just short of promising a set of “happier songs” at the Annenberg Center Sunday night. “That would be untrue,” she admitted.

After opening with her own song “Monday,” Salvant confessed a tendency towards the “gloomy and emo,” sentiments that predominate on her forthcoming release Ghost Song. Several pieces from that album, haunting both emotionally and thematically, peppered the vocalist’s Penn Live Arts-presented set on Sunday, along with her typically well-curated mix of original compositions, obscure standards, and offbeat pop songs.

Despite those predilections, her performance was far from morose. Salvant possesses a unique ability to draw conflicting emotions from a song, exploring the nuances of a lyric with theatrical eloquence and a prismatic variety of perspectives. She somehow manages to vividly embody a song and clinically dissect it at the same time — as in her rendition of “I’m All Smiles” from the Broadway musical The Yearling. Formerly recorded by Barbra Streisand, in Salvant’s hands the song shifts from giddy glee into mania, traversing the thin line between the obsessive joy of new romance and the potential for codependent toxicity.

Such dichotomies are laced throughout the vocalist’s conscientiously crafted repertoire. Since emerging onto the scene with 2013′s WomanChild, the 32-year-old Salvant has established herself as one of the most gifted jazz singers of her generation. An intriguing songwriter as well as an insightful and subversive interpreter of broad-ranging repertoire, she has earned several Grammy Awards and won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010.

Her emotive talents, wry intelligence, and caustic humor were all on dazzling display on Sunday night throughout an eclectic 80-minute set. Salvant was joined for the occasion by a stellar four-piece band. Japanese-born Keita Ogawa used a coloristic blend of brushwork and hand percussion so as never to shatter the intimate mood conjured by Salvant’s rapturous vocals, while flutist Alexa Tarantino, who has performed with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, laced the arrangements with filigreed melodies and trilling growls.

Guitarist Marvin Sewell has bridged a variety of jazz and blues styles throughout his career, including a fruitful relationship with another singular jazz vocalist, Cassandra Wilson. His conversance with funky blues came to the fore on Dianne Reeves’ “Mista,” a song that marvels at the wonders of the universe in the guise of a scorned lover’s sassy rebuke.

Usual accompanist Sullivan Fortner is a ferociously inventive pianist with an era-spanning approach. One of the show’s highlights was Salvant’s rendition of Sting’s “Until…” which began with the singer repeatedly intoning “Here in your arms,” setting Fortner off on discordant flurries. The first half of the song proceeded in ballad form as a mesmerizing duo between the two before suddenly erupting into a full-band tango. Fortner’s jaw-dropping solo seemed to veer from juke-joint swing to concert hall elegance and back within the span of a single phrase.

Classically trained at a French conservatory, Salvant combines exquisite vocal control with a theatrical tendency that makes her riveting to watch. She can spin a narrative just from the way she twists and colors a single word: the devilish plunge she took on the word “trickery” in “Monday,” or sculpting “hourglass” into its familiar shape on “Until...” Even her billowing ivory coat became a shifting costume, becoming a shapeless frock as she described elderly women practicing tai chi in a Brooklyn park, or lengthening into a preacher’s robes as she reached heavenly for a gospel-inflected crescendo in Kurt Weill’s withering “The World Is Mean” from The Threepenny Opera.

Salvant’s aversion to the obvious shined through on the unlikely mash-up of “Optimistic Voices” from The Wizard of Oz (by way of The Sopranos, which Salvant binge-watched during quarantine) and Gregory Porter’s “No Love Dying.” As the chipper “You’re out of the woods / You’re out of the dark / You’re out of the night” gave way to Porter’s melancholy ballad, doubts were sown and a song of celebration became tinged with wistful denial.

But it was Salvant’s season-appropriate send-off that best captured her sense of humor. Her arrangement of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” hewed close to the original, but she reverted to Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s original lyrics, rejected by Judy Garland as too morbid. As Salvant replaced the familiar “Let your heart be light” with “It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past,” the laughter that swept through the Philadelphia audience felt like a collective recognition of the turbulent times greeting this year’s holiday.