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Shaï nO Shaï

Country of origin:


Type of music generally:

Beautiful, fierce, world-flavoured evocative/eclectic alternative pop


Only released album, Human Condition (1996); a new album was promised in 2006 but doesn't seem to have been released

See also:

Shaï nO Shaï's MySpace site


This is a rather mercurial group that at various times has strong echoes of other artists. So far Bel Canto, Sheila Chandra, Sandy Denny, Loreena McKennitt, Sinéad O'Connor, and Boo Trundle have been mentioned as points of comparison.

Covers/own material:


General comments:

This is a female-fronted group from France, and I think of the group as "Sinéad O'Connor meets Loreena McKennitt". What this means is the vocal stylings and writing of Sinéad O'Connor, with the world-type music that Loreena McKennitt produces. (Matt.Bittner)

This group will probably remind everyone of someone different from song to song. For the eastern comparison, I thought of Bel Canto (specifically "Bombay") rather than Loreena McKennitt. Shaï nO Shaï has a bit more energy than Loreena McKennitt. And the vocal quality I picked up (aside from Ms. Drecker of Bel Canto) was a touch of Sandy Denny. Go figure. (

Damn, they're good. And strange! The music has all kinds of influences: one song will reminds me of Birds of Passage-era dancey Bel Canto but with Middle Eastern influences (the woman's voice even reminds me of Anneli Drecker's), while in other songs the lead singer's voice reminds me of Boo Trundle, who shout-sings her way through alternapop songs. The sound is poppy, but definitely harder-edged than most world pop. They sing in English for whatever that matters. Unlike Matt, though, I don't really hear Loreena McKennitt in this: she tends to have a more historical sensibility to her sound, while Shaï nO Shaï's music is very contemporary in sensibility and so it has quite a different feel. Sort of urban/smart rather than pastoral or something I can't quite put my finger on. Damn, they're good. And strange! (Neile)

Oooh, what a good call, folks. It's burstin' with flakes of Bel Canto, Renaissance, perhaps some Siouxsie Sioux, and I'm not even sure what else. What I do know is that I like it, and I can't for the life of me imagine what it was doing in the world beat section. Many thanks to those who've been talking it up; I'm rather pleased with the purchase. (

Recommended first album:

Human Condition


Human Condition (1996)

Human Condition

Release info:

1996—BMG (France, U.S.A.)—74321-40582-2


Widely available

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of world-flavoured pop

Group members:

Olga Helm—vocals
Laurence Martinez—violin
Joachim Cohen—guitar

Guest artists:

Thierry Cote—drums, percussion
Philippe Aerts—double bass
Luc Pilartz—bagpipes

Produced by:

Gilles Martin and Joachim C.


I highly recommend the disc. I found this by being bored in a record stores and idly playing with the sound station in the world music area. This is worldish rock and has great female vocals (lyrics in English). A strong Middle Eastern flavour with contemporary pop that has all kinds of echoes: first it reminds me of early Sheila Chandra, then Sinéad O'Connor, then early Bel Canto, with a bit of the yelling/singing of Boo Trundle and rap influences at times then beautiful ballad-like songs. It changes from track to track but it's all catchy stuff. I love it, and I'm glad other people have discovered it! High energy music. I like urgency—this album has it. (Neile)

I think there are many list members who would like this disc. Definitely...give it a spin. (

I tracked through this CD at a store sound station, and enjoyed it from the first track, so it's now in my collection. I highly recommend this CD, however, I still say you should track through it just to be sure. This is extremely unique, and I find I play it *almost* as much as Happy Rhodes's Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. (Matt.Bittner)

I love this album! Most like Bel Canto, but with some Middle Eastern influence and more down-to-earth vocals. It's peppy, with mostly upbeat danceable tunes. (JoAnn Whetsell)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2015-05-25 15:19:56.
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