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Top Picks: The 'Independent Lens' film 'The Homestretch,' Dwight Yoakam's 'Second Hand Heart,' and more

The 'NOVA' program 'The Great Math Mystery' explores the importance of math in everything from music to flowers, Jane Weaver's voice is as welcome to the ear as a downy pillow on her album 'The Silver Globe,' and more top picks.

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Dream weaver

Jane Weaver has such a beatific voice that Coldplay sampled it on its latest album. On The Silver Globe, the British keyboardist sails her voice through trancelike electronic soundscapes that unfurl like Mandelbrot images. It doesn’t always sound somnolent. “The Electric Mountain” samples a thrusting Hawkwind guitar riff. “Argent” hydroplanes along a Motorik groove. And the dream pop of “Mission Desire” should appeal to fans of indie group School of Seven Bells. Throughout, Weaver’s voice is as welcome to the ear as a downy pillow.

Young and homeless

The “Independent Lens” film The Homestretch follows three homeless Chicago teenagers striving to finish high school and make better lives for themselves. They navigate the turbulence of their own emotional growth even as their home lives constantly shift beneath them. The efforts of the teachers and adults helping the teens to succeed is inspiring. The film premières on PBS April 13 at 10 p.m.

Noah’s art

Trevor Noah, who is Jon Stewart’s successor to host “The Daily Show,” is a South African who speaks five languages. In his 2013 stand-up special, “African American” (streaming on Netflix and available on DVD), Noah is also fluent in the international lingua franca of comedy. The mixed-race comedian, who mimics accents better than Meryl Streep, makes PG-13 observations about cultural differences between Africa and America. For example, Noah asks his audience, “Please explain to me how the abbreviation for pounds became ‘lbs.’?” 

Rugged rockabilly

On his latest, Second Hand Heart, released 30 years after his debut, Dwight Yoakam’s hillbilly rock swoops and soars with honky-tonk guitars and powerful vocals. The 10-song set includes the stomping “Liar,” a raucous cover of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” and the catchy, wistful opener, “In Another World.” Yoakam’s voice, reminiscent at times of Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Chris Isaak, matches his rockabilly sensibilities. And when he sings, “With every hurt that ached so long, in another world they’ll all be gone,” he sounds like he means it.

Mathematical beauty

A new “NOVA” program explores all things math – from its importance in music to its presence in the design of a sunflower. Astrophysicist Mario Livio explains how integral math is to every day and ponders whether math is man-made or whether we happened upon it. The Great Math Mystery airs on PBS on April 15 at 9 p.m. It’s also available on DVD.

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